Oregon man faces federal charges for COVID relief fraud

 

Date: December 22, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Portland, OR — An Oregon man is facing federal charges for fraudulently converting to personal use loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. David Unitan, aka Danny Cohen, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Unitan took advantage of economic relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to court documents, in July 2020, a small business owner contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office to report that an unknown person had obtained and used personal information belonging to himself, his wife, and their business to establish accounts at a bank in Boston, Massachusetts. Sometime later, IRS Criminal Investigation independently opened an investigation into EIDLs and PPP loans obtained under suspicious circumstances by someone purporting to be Daniel Cohen but was in fact Unitan.

A review of SBA records revealed that six EIDL applications had been submitted using the small business owner's social security number. Of the six applications, two were funded for a total of $295,000. These funds were disbursed into the Boston bank account in June and July of 2020. Investigators soon discovered that a transfer of $100,000 was made from the Boston account to another bank account on June 24, 2020, and that, on the same day, a wire transfer of $77,898 was made to Mackenzie Motor Company in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Investigators contacted the general manager of Dick's Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro and learned that an individual named Danny Michael Cohen had recently purchased a 2020 Ford F-350 Super Duty Lariat truck for $77,898 using a counterfeit California driver's license. The general manager also told investigators that the individual had shown up at the dealership driving a 2020 Tesla Model X and provided his insurance card for the Tesla as part of the truck purchase. A review of law enforcement records revealed that the Tesla had recently been impounded by the Lake Oswego Police Department because the driver, David Unitan, had been operating the vehicle with a suspended license.

Investigators compared Unitan's Oregon DMV photo with the photo on the California driver's license provided to dealership and confirmed the likenesses appeared to match. The small business owner who had originally reported the fraud later confirmed that his company had previously contracted with David Unitan for video production. The business owner also confirmed the photo on the counterfeit California driver's license used to purchase the Ford pickup was indeed David Unitan.

Federal agents and Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies arrested Unitan at his home this morning pursuant to a warrant issued by the federal district court. Agents also seized the Ford pickup and Tesla sedan as proceeds of loans Unitan obtained through fraudulent EIDL and PPP loan applications.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.