Alleged PPP Fraudster Blew $2.5M on Cars, Crypto

Vinicius Santana of Florida allegedly bought 2 cars and a home with his $2.5M loan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2022 7:27 AM CDT
Alleged PPP Fraudster Had a Thing for Cars
Unsold 2019 A8 and A6 sedans sits at an Audi dealership in Littleton, Colo., on May 19, 2019.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Authorities say the former owner of a Massachusetts painting business fraudulently received $2.5 million in loans meant to assist small businesses during the pandemic before buying cars and a home and investing in cryptocurrency. Vinicius Santana, 34, was arrested Monday at Miami International Airport, not far from where he now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., per NPR. He filed three applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans on behalf of Complete Home Care, which was claimed to have five employees and an average monthly payroll of $10,000 to $18,000. All were denied. Then he tried again.

"In the fourth application for CHC, it is alleged that Santana falsely claimed to have 154 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1 million," according to the US Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts. The application was granted and a bank issued a loan of $2.5 million on May 11, 2020. Within days, Santana allegedly used $17,500 to pay off two car loans, per MassLive. Then in July, he bought a 2019 Toyota Highlander for $29,471 and spent $90,000 at an Audi dealership, according to court documents. He also allegedly wired $900,000 to an account with cryptocurrency exchange Kraken.

The account was down to a little over $40,000 by mid-September. He later transferred funds from his Kraken account to the CHC account, allowing him to purchase a residential property for over $400,000, authorities say, per MassLive. He then closed the CHC account and allegedly transferred more than $250,000 from his Kraken account into a new account with a different bank. He's charged with one count of wire fraud, which "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 US Attorney's Office said. (More fraud stories.)

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