Vinicius Santana Arrested For $2.5M COVID Fraud, Officials Say He Bought Cryptocurrency And Spent $90,000 At Audi Dealership
A former Massachusetts business owner has been arrested after officials say he fraudulently obtained $2.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security), instead spending that money on cryptocurrency and cars.
Vinicius Santana, 34, has been charged with one count of wire fraud. He was previously from Revere but was living in Boca Raton, Fla., when he was arrested Monday night at Miami International Airport, officials said.
Court documents say Santana owned Complete Home Care, LLC (CHC), a Massachusetts paint company. And in April 2020, he submitted four different PPP loan applications on behalf of the company.
In the first three applications, Santana listed five employees and an average monthly payroll of between $10,000 and $18,000, officials said. But they were refused.
“In CHC’s fourth application, it is alleged that Santana falsely claimed to have 154 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1 million,” a statement read. “On May 11, 2020, a bank granted Santana’s company a loan of $2,500,000 based on the alleged misrepresentations in the fourth request.”
Officials said Santana then “abused” the loans for further payments.
On May 14, 2020, Santana used $7,861.12 of the money to pay for a car charge he had previously obtained, according to court documents. Days later, officials said he paid off another car loan issued by Chase Auto Finance with $9,681.
Then, on July 2, court documents show that Santana paid $29,471 for a 2019 Toyota Highlander. Again, officials say, he used the account containing the PPP loan. Later that month, Santana paid Audi of Burlington $90,000.
He also wired $900,000 from the account to an account at Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange, court documents read.
“As of September 15, 2020, the EBSB account balance had fallen to $41,111.70,” the court documents state. “While Santana spent the majority of the PPP funds (approximately May 11, 2020 to September 20, 2020), there were no deposits greater than $1 to the CHC EBSB account.”
Santana then transferred $457,816.43 from his Kraken account to the account with the PPP charge. But the money didn’t stay there for long.
Within days, officials said Santana had authorized a bank check for $407,587.60 to the Moran law firm for the purchase of residential property in Lowell.
He then closed his account, officials said, and opened another at JP Morgan Chase. Around Jan. 28, 2020, Santana transferred approximately $257,510 from his Kraken account to the JP Morgan Chase account, officials said.
The wire fraud charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or double the gross gain or loss of the scheme, whichever is greater. high, the U.S. attorney’s office said.