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A Florida man is accused of $2.5 million COVID-19 relief fraud

The Department of Justice building in Washington on February 9, 2022.
Stefani Reynolds
/
AFP via Getty Images
The Department of Justice building in Washington on February 9, 2022.

A Florida man was arrested and charged with wire fraud after being accused of filing a fraudulent loan application to receive $2.5 million through COVID-19 relief funds.

Vinicius Santana, 34, a former Massachusetts resident, submitted four Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for the paint company he owned through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in 2020, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The CARES Act, a 2020 federal law enacted in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, offered loans to help struggling small businesses.

The first three applications were denied, but Santana's fourth attempt in which he claimed that his company, Complete Home Care, LLC, had 154 employees and a $1 million average monthly payroll, was accepted, according to the DOJ. Santana is accused of using the COVID-19 relief funds on cars and cryptocurrency investments.

Santana, who now resides in Boca Raton, Fla., was arrested Monday at the Miami International Airport and appeared in federal court Tuesday in Miami.

"The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater," the DOJ said in a statement.

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