IRS-CI serves as key player in government’s response to combatting COVID fraud


Agency conducted 840 investigations, with fraud figures totaling more than 3.1 billion dollars

Date: October 20, 2022


WASHINGTON — IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) continues to play a key role in the federal government's response to COVID fraud. The Department of Justice announced Tuesday new criminal charges, convictions, and sentences related to COVID fraud and misuse of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

Through Sept. 30, IRS-CI has been involved in 840 tax and money laundering investigations tied to COVID fraud, totaling more than $3.1 billion. These investigations covered a broad range of criminal activity, including fraudulently obtained loans, credits and payments meant for American workers, families, and small businesses.

"These funds were meant for individuals and businesses whose lives were upended by an unprecedented pandemic," said IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee. "Our special agents aim to do right by the American people and ensure that those who misused these funds face justice for the crimes they committed."

"The Criminal Division and our partners are committed to identifying and holding accountable those who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for their own gain," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "As these cases demonstrate, we are unwavering in our determination to prosecute those who have defrauded relief programs meant to help struggling Americans during the pandemic."

The Department of Justice announced the following cases Tuesday:

United States v. Amber Singleton and Emanuel Tucker

On Sept. 9, Amber Singleton and Emanuel Tucker, both of Canyon Lake, California, were charged in the Central District of California by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering for their roles in an alleged scheme to obtain $15.9 million in CARES Act funds through fraud.

According to court documents, Singleton, Tucker, and other co-conspirators allegedly submitted 41 fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications and 13 fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications on behalf of various companies they owned and controlled. These applications allegedly contained material misrepresentations about the companies, including the number of employees, average monthly payroll, gross revenue, cost of goods, and supporting documents.

IRS-CI, along with the FBI; the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG); the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office of Inspector General (FRB-CFPB OIG); the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (DOE-OIG) investigated this case.

United States v. Marqus Willard Johnson

On Sept. 15, Marqus Willard Johnson, of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty in the Middle District of Florida to bank fraud and money laundering as part of a scheme to fraudulently obtain $544,900 in PPP and EIDL funds.

According to court documents, in or around April 2020, June 2020, and January 2021, Johnson applied for one PPP loan and six EIDL loans in connection with two companies he controlled, falsely claiming that he had large monthly payrolls. Johnson successfully obtained three loans. On the loan applications, Johnson provided false and fraudulent representations concerning the financial condition of his companies and the intended purposes for the loans.

IRS-CI investigated this case.

United States v. Darrell Thomas, et al.

Between Jan. 4, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022, 13 defendants were sentenced and another five pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Georgia for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $12 million in PPP and EIDL funds.

According to court documents, the defendants and their co-conspirators submitted at least 14 fraudulent loan applications totaling more than $14.7 million, including approximately $11.1 million in fraudulent PPP loans, more than $1.15 million in fraudulent EIDL loans, and more than $2.4 million in fraudulent automobile loans. In the PPP loan applications, each business reported it had approximately 60 employees and approximately $300,000 in average monthly payroll expenses, when, in fact, most of the businesses existed mainly on paper. To support these payroll figures, each business loan application was accompanied by a fraudulent IRS Form 941.

After the PPP loan proceeds were deposited into the businesses' accounts, the conspirators distributed the funds through a series of transactions meant to disguise the origins of the funds and how the funds were spent. The conspirators used the PPP loan proceeds to purchase, among luxury goods and vehicles. More information on this case can be found here.

IRS-CI, along with the FBI and TIGTA conducted this investigation.

IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, boasting a nearly 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12