Officials: Newark Woman Facing 20 Years In CARES Act Fraud Case

U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss announced Tuesday that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging a Newark woman with wire fraud, loan fraud, and money laundering in connection with seventeen allegedly fraudulent loan applications under programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).

According to the indictment, Ana Soto, 40, fraudulently applied for loans designed to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 2020 and January 2021, using the names of five separate companies, Soto submitted applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and its authorized lenders, inflating, among other metrics, the revenues and number of employees of the companies in an attempt to obtain greater payments under either the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”), said Weiss.

Weiss went on to say that in some instances, Soto falsely claimed businesses that had either already closed or not yet open at the onset of the pandemic were entitled to funds. While many of these applications were denied, as a result of her illegal conduct, Soto obtained approximately $246,000, added Weiss. Soto then used the money for personal expenses, not authorized by the PPP or EIDL program, including the purchase of a personal use vehicle, according to the indictment.

U.S. Attorney Weiss commented on the charges, “In the midst of a global crisis, this defendant took advantage of government programs designed to support small businesses and the employees of those businesses. The defendant’s opportunism, at the expense of the U.S. government and its citizens, deserves sanction and today’s indictment represents the first step in seeking to hold her accountable for her actions.”

Soto is charged with wire fraud, SBA fraud, and money laundering. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.

IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI Baltimore Division’s Wilmington Resident Agency conducted the investigation in this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley F. Wolf is prosecuting the case.

Source: USDOJ