Man Sought $6 Million in COVID Loans With Fake "Game of Thrones" Companies
One man used his TV show knowledge to illegally get coronavirus relief aide.
Everyone is desperate for a little extra cash these days, from people who've lost their jobs due to the pandemic to companies trying to stay afloat after months of lockdown crippled their businesses. In March, the government announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), providing small businesses with funds to cover eight weeks of payroll, authorizing up to $659 billion toward job retention and other expenses. But some people seem to have gotten a bit greedy with regards to these PPP loans. A man in North Carolina is now in legal trouble after seeking coronavirus relief funds using fake companies named after Game of Thrones.
Tristan Pan, a 38-year-old man living in North Carolina, allegedly sought more than $6 million in PPP loans using fake Game of Thrones-based companies named The Night's Watch, White Walker, and Khalessi, as well as a fake Pan Insurance Agency company, according to the Department of Justice.
Pan allegedly submitted 14 PPP loan applications seeking more than $6.1 million in coronavirus aide and had received $1.7 million via approved loan applications for the fictional Pan Insurance Agency and the White Walker, LLC. According to his indictment, he made "false statements about the companies' employees and payroll expenses," which was seemingly supported by "fake documents, including falsified tax filings."
Pan has since been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions after an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and the FBI, with the assistance of the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.
These PPP loans Pan sought were created through the CARES Act, a federal law that was enacted on March 29 to help provide emergency financial aide to millions of Americans facing economic suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. One source of coronavirus relief from the CARES Act are the PPP loans, which businesses must only use for "payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities," according to the Department of Justice.
But Pan isn't the only one who has been accused of illegally trying to secure coronavirus relief. During a press conference on Sept. 10, Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt said that more than 50 people have allegedly tried to commit fraud to net more than $175 million from the CARES Act through PPP loans. He said the actual loss has been more than $70 million.
"PPP funds were intended to help keep American businesses afloat. They were intended to help ordinary, everyday Americans pay their bills and put food on the table," Rabbitt said. "The money these defendants stole was taxpayer money; every dollar received was a dollar drawn from the American people's account. Even worse, every dollar they took was a dollar set aside to help our fellow Americans weather one of the worst national crises in recent history." But if you're looking to make money the right way, check out This Is the State Where You Can Make the Most Money.