COLOMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – US Attorney Corey F. Ellis today announced that Bridgett Dorsey, 39, of Blythewood, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to more than $ 1.2 million in related fraud to aid, relief and economic security from the coronavirus. (“CARES”) and to commit tax evasion. The sentence is the first in the District of South Carolina for a CARES law fraud case.

“The defendant in this case not only robbed the federal government and engaged in tax evasion, but also prevented funds from reaching those who needed them most. The fact that this happened during a pandemic makes his crimes particularly egregious, ”said US Attorney Ellis. “This case highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecute those who illegally take advantage of COVID-19 to line their pockets. Fortunately, the swift and competent work of our federal partners resulted in the recovery of a substantial amount of the stolen funds. “

“It is always a shame to see the widespread abuse of programs designed to help ordinary people grapple with the pandemic,” said Brian Thomas, Deputy Special Agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation ( IRS), from the Charlotte field office. “The IRS will continue to thoroughly investigate and vigorously target those who exploit the pandemic to commit tax evasion, and this case is a testament to those efforts. “

The Inspector General of the Treasury for the Tax Administration is aggressively pursuing those who attempt to defraud the American public by fraudulently obtaining taxpayer-funded loans through the Coronavirus Act’s Paycheck Protection Program, Aid , relief and economic security, which is designed to help legitimate business owners during the pandemic, ”said J. Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure this criminal activity is held to account. “

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the coronavirus. The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Disaster Lending Program (“EIDL”) were two primary sources of relief provided by the CARES Act. PPP loans consisted of more than $ 640 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The EIDL program has provided low-interest loans to business owners to pay off items such as accounts payable and other bills that could not be paid due to COVID-19.

Evidence presented to the court showed that from April 2020 to August 2020, Dorsey fraudulently requested and received $ 1,253,460.35 through seven EIDL loans and two PPP loans, as well as two EIDL cash advances, on behalf of of seven companies of which she was the alleged owner. . Each of the requests Dorsey submitted contained substantively false information, including an overestimation of company revenue, an increase in the number of employees, or the provision of addresses where the companies did not exist. In some cases, Dorsey created and submitted false documents or established businesses for the sole purpose of obtaining the loans.

During their investigation into Dorsey’s coronavirus fraud, IRS and TIGTA agents discovered that Dorsey had also been engaged in fraudulent tax preparation through one of her businesses. , Virtual Financial Services. Specifically, Dorsey prepared several substitute tax returns and claimed deductions she knew to be false.

The quick work of the IRS and TIGTA allowed agencies to seize more than $ 500,000 in stolen funds that were in bank accounts controlled by Dorsey, and another account of approximately $ 130,000 was frozen. These funds will be used for the restitution Dorsey owes in the case. In addition, Dorsey paid approximately $ 184,000 in restitution prior to conviction.

U.S. Senior District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced Dorsey to 24 months in federal prison, followed by three years of judicial supervision. There is no parole in the federal system. The court also ordered him to pay more than $ 1 million in restitution for his fraud related to the CARES Act, in addition to $ 13,865 in restitution to the IRS due to his tax evasion.

The case was investigated by the IRS and TIGTA. Assistant United States Attorney Derek Shoemake, who also serves as the Bureau’s coronavirus fraud coordinator, continued the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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