Doctor and His Wife Charged for $1.3M COVID-19 Loan Fraud Scheme by FBI
In a shocking case that has recently come to light, a medical doctor and his wife from Las Vegas are facing charges for allegedly engaging in a fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $1.3 million in COVID-19 pandemic relief loans. The relief funds were meant to provide crucial support to businesses affected by the economic impact of the pandemic but the accused couple allegedly misused them for personal gain, per the U.S. Department of Justice.
The accused and their alleged scheme
The accused parties in this case are Dr. Kofi Sarfo, 58, and his wife, Rose Sarfo, 54, both residents of Las Vegas. Dr. Sarfo is the owner and president of Vista Medical Associates, a medical practice located in Las Vegas, and Rose Sarfo serves as the office manager and treasurer. According to court documents, the couple allegedly conspired to submit false loan applications to obtain financial assistance through two government programs—the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
COVID-19 funds used for personal investment
The indictment alleges that rather than using the obtained funds to support their medical practice as claimed in their loan applications, the Sarfos misappropriated a portion of the funds for personal investment purposes. Specifically, the funds were reportedly used to purchase stocks and cryptocurrency.
Charges and potential penalties
The Sarfos are facing serious federal charges for their alleged actions. They have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Additionally, Dr. Kofi Sarfo is facing an additional charge of money laundering. If convicted, they could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charges, and Dr. Sarfo could face an additional 10 years in prison for the money laundering charge.
The role of law enforcement and the trial
The investigation into this case is being led by the FBI Las Vegas Field Office and the prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Kyle Crawford of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The charges and evidence will be presented in a court of law, where the accused will have the opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations. It is essential to remember that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force
In response to the rampant fraud attempts related to pandemic relief programs, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force in May 2021. This task force has been crucial in coordinating the efforts of various government agencies to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. By pooling resources and enhancing collaboration, the task force aims to identify and prosecute those responsible for fraudulent activities, thereby safeguarding the funds intended to support businesses during the crisis.
The main functions of the Task Force have been listed in their press release as detecting and disrupting future fraud; supporting the investigation and prosecution of the most culpable offenders; assisting in the recovery of stolen funds; working closely with interagency partners to share information and insights gained from prior enforcement experience in order to reduce the potential threat to the American people and COVID-19 relief; helping agencies tasked with administering these significant relief programs increase their own vigilance by providing information law enforcement learns about fraud trends and illicit tactics, as appropriate; fielding a public awareness campaign through fraud alerts and a dedicated DOJ website with resources to help the American people take steps to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities; and serving as a deterrent, amplifying the message that exploiting government assistance for personal and financial gain will not be tolerated.
Reporting fraud related to COVID-19 relief programs
The Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline is available for anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 relief programs. Reports can be made through the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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