Baltimore man pleads guilty to fraudulently obtaining CARES Act loans and defrauding businesses

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with multiple identity theft and fraud schemes, including schemes carried out while on probation following a conviction prior for state fraud and while on bail in connection with state fraud charges.

As part of his plea deal, Keon Ball, 45, will be ordered to pay at least $715,504 in restitution.

According to his guilty plea, from May 2018 to June 2020, Ball and a co-conspirator incurred charges of more than $1,000,000 on fraudulently established lines of credit, using the identities of at least 10 victims in the framework of the schemes.

For example, on August 25, 2018, Ball submitted a false and fraudulent application to open an account with a financial institution using Victim 1’s name, date of birth, and social security number.

After the credit application was approved, Ball and his co-conspirator committed $105,442.59 in purchases from Company 1 (a home improvement store) under the identity of Victim 1.

According to documents, Ball and his co-conspirator did the same several other times afterward, incurring charges of more than $150,000 in connection with lines of credit opened in the name of various other victims, none of whom been reimbursed. Ball and his co-conspirator also repeatedly forwarded fraudulent checks to Company 1, claiming to pay the balances they had incurred.

Additionally, as part of their fraud scheme, Ball and his co-conspirator obtained two vehicles worth over $60,000 and several pieces of heavy construction equipment worth over $30,000. $ using victim 2’s credentials.

As noted in his plea agreement, on February 5, 2019, law enforcement executed a search and seizure warrant on Ball’s luxury Baltimore high-rise, where law enforcement seized several forged identification documents, including three fraudulent licenses, a card reader, a re-encoder, a bank of white plastic card stock, hologram overlays, and a firearm that Ball was prohibited from possessing.

Investigators also discovered that Ball rented the apartment using a forged ID document and the credentials of another identity theft victim. Law enforcement would also continue to recover several pieces of fraudulently obtained heavy equipment.

Ball was later arrested and charged at the state level in connection with the fraudulent line of credit scheme, and later released on conditions.

As stated in the plea agreement, despite his pending charges, Ball was not deterred and his fraudulent activity continued. In June and July 2020, Ball submitted fraudulent loan applications to the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loans) and obtained $256,664 in government-backed PPP funds for purported businesses that did not did not legitimately exist.

Each request was accompanied by a document purporting to be a 2019 IRS Form W-3, Wage and Tax Returns Transmittal, which was in fact not legitimate and contained false information regarding the alleged wages paid. and the alleged number of employees of each company.

Each request also incorrectly asserted that Ball was not on probation in light of a prior conviction at the time of each request.

The PPP funds were then deposited into a bank account that Ball had opened using the credentials of another victim.

Ball also initiated the PPP loan application process for two other Bank 1 fraudulent PPP loans amounting to $113,258 and $231,078,000 for alleged businesses he ran. These loans, however, were ultimately not closed.

In total, Ball caused a loss of $750,000 and expected losses of over $1,450,000 and used the identifying information of over 10 victims in his schemes.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud.

The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts.

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