24 accused of COVID-19 relief fraud in South Florida, including ex-NFL receiver

Football player Kenbrell Thompkins used stolen identities, U.S. Attorney says

On her last official day in that role, .S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida touted the success of a CARES Act fraud crackdown.
On her last official day in that role, .S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida touted the success of a CARES Act fraud crackdown. (WPLG)

MIAMI – In just the past 30 days, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami has brought 18 cases against 24 people who are accused of fraud worth millions of dollars in money that was supposed to go to people and businesses that desperately need it.

“I have coined that this is the fraud capital of the world,” said U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida.

On her last official day in that role, Orshan held a news conference with the local leaders of several other federal agencies Friday to tout the success of their CARES Act fraud crackdown.

“Since the start and the passing of the CARES Act in March 2020, we have charged 38 cases for a total of $75 million that have and/or will be recuperated to go back to the federal government where it belongs and hopefully to use for others that really need it,” she said, referring to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

That includes the 18 cases over the past month, involving people who allegedly defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans), emergency injury disaster loans, or unemployment compensation benefits.

In July, one man in Coral Gables pled guilty to getting nearly $4 million in PPP loans and buying a Lamborghini.

Others charged range from a 35-year-old local tax preparer from Miami to a 21-year-old yacht rental business owner in Fort Lauderdale, and even a former NFL player.

That former football player was identified Friday as Kenbrell Thompkins, a wide receiver for the Patriots, Raiders and Jets.

“It is alleged in court documents that Thompkins used the stolen identities of numerous Florida residents to obtain fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits from the State of California,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “California distributed these unemployment benefit funds in the form of debit cards, which were subsequently mailed to addresses associated with Thompkins in Miami and Aventura, Florida.”

“These are millions of dollars ... by greedy criminals,” said Tyler Hatcher, acting special agent in charge for IRS Miami.

Although this was the U.S. Attorney’s last day, the taskforce says their work is not done and they have dozens of other investigations underway.

“We will find you, we will identify you, we will come after you, we will arrest you and we will hold you accountable,” Orshan said.

She also on Friday released a statement about her resignation that read in part:

“As is expected with a change in administration, I have submitted to President Biden my resignation as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, effective at midnight on March 27, 2021. Beginning March 28, 2021, Juan Antonio ‘Tony’ Gonzalez, who currently serves as the First Assistant United States Attorney, will lead the office as Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

“Serving as your United States Attorney has been the privilege and honor of my lifetime. As the first Senate-confirmed woman to lead the office, I find it moving that my tenure ends in March, the month during which we celebrate women’s contributions to society.”

For more information on all of the fraud allegations revealed Friday by Orshan’s office, click here.


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