The number of people convicted of fraud in our country is increasing daily, especially in the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic that shook the world, where many people tried to manipulate the system and profit from the health crisis.
The most recent case where a man was convicted of fraud was reported in New York.
Authorities in New York said that a doctor tried to profit from the COVID-19 relief funds and was sentenced to more than 4 years in prison on Friday. He was accused of obtaining more than $3 million in COVID emergency loans.
Afterward, he was charged with disaster relief fraud and wire fraud for taking out small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. In November 2021, he agreed to plead guilty to both crimes.
According to court records, Dr. Konstantinos Zarkadas used the fraudulently obtained money to purchase a $1.7 million boat, lease luxury vehicles, and purchase Rolex and Cartier luxury watches, among other things.
United States Attorney Breon Peace issued a statement Friday saying, “Today’s sentence demonstrates there are consequences for those who treat vital government programs as cash give-a-ways and shamefully seek to profit from an unprecedented public health crisis. This Office will vigorously prosecute and bring to justice medical professionals like the defendant and other fraudsters who are driven by greed to maintain a lavish lifestyle at the expense of small businesses in legitimate need of COVID-19 emergency assistance.”
Officials said the 48-year-old doctor was accused of applying for and receiving at least 11 loans unlawfully in 2020 between the months of March and July. Zarkadas then laundered the money and used it to make “extravagant personal expenditures,” including an almost $200,000 down payment on a boat.
According to IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge of New York, Thomas Fattorusso, Jr., “Thanks to the investigative work of IRS-CI and the FBI, he’ll sail straight to federal prison instead of onboard his $1.7 million yacht that was illegally purchased with CARES Act funds.”
Zarkadas has also been forced to pay nearly $3.5 million in restitution, in addition to his 51-month prison term.