Tampa man guilty of wire fraud, money laundering in misuse of $500,000 COVID-19 small business loan


Date: May 3, 2024

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Tampa, FL — United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Barrett Purvis guilty of wire fraud and money laundering. Purvis faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud offense and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the money laundering offense. Sentencing is scheduled for August 12, 2024. Purvis was indicted on March 30, 2023.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Purvis applied for and received a $500,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2021. Although he applied on behalf of a legitimate small business he owned and operated, Purvis never intended to use any of the loan proceeds on working capital as required by the terms of the loan agreement. Instead, Purvis spent approximately half of the proceeds on gambling debt and the rest on other personal debt, including debt incurred on his girlfriend’s three credit cards. Within two weeks of receiving the loan, Purvis had used nearly all the proceeds on personal expenses, unrelated to any legitimate business.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Candace Garcia Rich.

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

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. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.