BOSTON – A Florida man was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to use stolen identities to fraudulently obtain disaster loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and to launder money.
Hector Garcia, 51, of Ocala, Florida, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He is due to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date. Garcia was previously arrested and charged in August 2021.
Garcia conspired with others to use stolen U.S. citizenship information to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, according to charging documents. Garcia allegedly used the stolen identity information of a U.S. citizen to open a fraudulent bank account and then linked that account to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive SBA funds. Garcia and his co-conspirators allegedly used debit cards associated with the accounts to launder money by purchasing iPhones for resale. It is also alleged that Garcia and other co-conspirators wired some of the funds to the Dominican Republic.
More than $452,000 in SBA funds related to the scheme was allegedly obtained fraudulently. About $250,000 of that was spent on iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross criminal proceeds or losses. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence, with any other sentence to be served consecutively, up to a year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district judge in accordance with the United States Sentencing Guidelines and statutes governing sentencing decisions in criminal cases.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Special Agent in Charge New England Homeland Security Investigations Matthew B. Millhollin. Valuable assistance was also provided by Homeland Security Investigations, Orlando, FL; Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General; Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; Inspection Services; Massachusetts State Police; New Hampshire State Police; and Acton, Nashua (NH), Manchester (NH), and Ocala (FL) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elianna J. Nuzum and Adam W. Deitch of the Rollins Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to work with government agencies to mobilize DOJ resources to step up efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force intensifies efforts to investigate and prosecute the most reprehensible domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies charged with implementing relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other means, strengthening and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and technologies To expose fraudsters and their schemes, and to share and leverage information and insights gained from prior law enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department of Justice’s response to the pandemic, visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 may report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the NCDF web complaint form at https://www .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The details contained in the charging documents are the allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.