San Jose man bought cryptocurrency, Tesla with PPP loan money, authorities say – Silicon Valley

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SAN JOSE – A man was arrested after authorities said he fraudulently took advantage of federal pandemic relief programs, illegally earning around $ 2 million which he used to buy cryptocurrency, buy a Tesla and dine in restaurants.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, Lebnitz Tran, 40, of San José, allegedly submitted 27 bogus claims to the Paycheck Protection Program and at least seven claims to the Case Loan Program. disaster, both of which were created to help businesses across the country weather the financial storms of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tran is accused of developing claims “on behalf of several people and business entities, using false and fictitious information and documents, including falsified employee information, fictitious or grossly exaggerated and false payroll figures. tax documents “.

A federal indictment claims Tran claimed over $ 8 million in total during his scheme, and obtained over $ 3.6 million in loans, and ultimately walked away with around $ 2 million.

“Tran and others have used these illicit lending products to make purchases at restaurants and retail stores, make deposits to personal investment accounts, buy cryptocurrency and, in one case, buy. a $ 100,000 Tesla from a luxury car dealership, ”a statement from the US attorney’s office said.

Tran is charged with six counts of wire fraud and three counts of bank fraud. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud and 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, authorities said.

The FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration are investigating the case, under the auspices of the Federal Task Force on Combating COVID-19 Fraud.

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