Florida man sentenced to prison for committing COVID-19 relief fraud
COVID-19 crime caused at least $3.5 million in loss.
A Florida man who conspired to steal identities to fraudulently obtain credit and COVID-19 relief funds was sentenced in federal court to 96 months (eight years) in prison.
Adesh Alvin Bissoon, 43, of Miami Beach, Florida, defrauded several victims who resided in the Southern District of Ohio. Bissoon caused at least $3.5 million in loss, including more than $1 million in disaster-relief funds he fraudulently obtained during the pandemic.
When federal agents executed a search warrant at one of Bissoon’s residences, they found multiple driver’s licenses, approximately 200 credit and/or debit cards, and more than 10 checkbooks, all in other people’s names. Agents also discovered hundreds of other documents containing victims’ personally identifiable information (PII); approximately $70,000 in cash; tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of precious metals; and seven cellphones, each of which was labeled with the name of a victim.
Dark Web, LLCs & Loans
According to court documents, from 2012 through August 2020, Bissoon and co-conspirators used the Dark Web to obtain victims’ PII. Bissoon and others also used the victims’ information to create fraudulent Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, which they then used to open financial accounts in the victims’ names. Bissoon then requested convenience checks in high dollar amounts, drawn against the victims’ lines of credit. He also registered LLCs with states and the IRS to obtain business credit cards with higher credit limits. Bissoon separately applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Association using the LLCs he had established using individual victims' PII, claiming that those businesses were experiencing temporary difficulties and loss of revenue due to COVID-19.
Charged & Released
Bissoon was initially charged by criminal complaint in August 2020 and released on bond in Florida. Bissoon’s pretrial release was revoked after law enforcement discovered he had attempted to steal another $150,000 from a bank while on release by falsely claiming to be the victim of unauthorized bank transfers.
Bissoon was indicted by a grand jury in September 2020, along with Michael Jacques Joseph, 39, of Miami Beach, Florida, and Victor Torres, 40, of Apollo Beach, Florida, and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution, as well as aggravated identity theft. Joseph and Torres have pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing.
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