INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis woman was sentenced to a year of probation for creating fake documents in an effort to get COVID-19 relief funds for businesses that don't exist.
Court documents say 29-year-old D’Ericka Lee filed three separate loan applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) following the onset of the COVID‑19 pandemic.
In those applications, she claimed she ran a retail clothing and apparel business, a daycare, and a medical services business. She also made it appear as if those businesses had various employees and generated an income.
An investigation found that the businesses didn't exist and that the business addresses that Lee listed in her applications were personal residences that were "incapable of housing a business," according to the Department of Justice.
“This defendant repeatedly lied to take advantage of disaster loan programs that were a vital lifeline to those actually entitled to them,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Lee's case was investigated by the FBI. Herbert Stapleton, the special agent in charge of the FBI Indianapolis Field Office, said this case serves as an example of how the FBI is cracking down on COVID-19-related fraud cases.
"Stealing money meant to help those who were vulnerable and in need during those unprecedented times was reprehensible and will not be tolerated," Stapleton said.
Lee was sentenced after pleading guilty to wire fraud and making and using a false document.
In addition to the year probation, she was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Small Business Administration.
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 (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.