May 21, 2022

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Portland Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud After Stealing Covid-Relief Funds | USAO-OR

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland person pleaded guilty currently for perpetrating a scheme to steal cash supposed to help tiny organizations in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benjamin Tifekchian, 47, pleaded responsible to financial institution fraud.

According to court docket paperwork, in May perhaps 2019, Tifekchian included Bencho Jewelry Inc. (Bencho) in the Condition of Oregon and served as the company’s sole owner and officer. Bencho never ever experienced any staff and never ever created far more than $500 in earnings in any calendar yr. 

Following Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Aid, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act in March 2020 to supply crisis economical assistance to millions of People in america suffering the financial outcomes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tifekchian devised and perpetrated a plan to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) by fraudulently implementing for CARES Act-licensed Financial Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Safety System (PPP) financial loans on behalf of Bencho.

In EIDL apps submitted to SBA in April and August 2020, Tifekchian falsely claimed Bencho had generated as significantly as $758,000 in earnings, had been running for 20 several years, and used 12 persons. SBA denied both of those apps. In June 2020, Tifekchian properly obtained more than $884,000 in PPP funding following falsely proclaiming Bencho utilized 78 persons and had an typical regular monthly payroll of $353,698. SBA guaranteed the personal loan and compensated Financial institution of The united states, the FDIC-insured bank loan issuer, more than $26,000 in expenses.

Tifekchian used the PPP loan to fork out for gambling, vacations, and other particular fees. Suspecting fraud, Bank of The us froze the loan cash, but only right after Tifekchian experienced invested much more than $68,000.

On July 13, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a two-depend indictment charging Tifekchian with financial institution fraud and wire fraud.

Tifekchian faces a maximum sentence of 30 yrs in prison, a $1 million wonderful and 5 years’ supervised release. With his continued acceptance of responsibility, the govt will propose Tifekchian be sentenced to at minimum 21 months in prison. Tifekchian will be sentenced on April 18, 2022, just before U.S. District Court docket Decide Karin J. Immergut.

As component of the plea agreement, Tifekchian has agreed to pay $910,773.35 in restitution, such as $26,527 to SBA.

U.S. Legal professional Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the SBA Workplace of Inspector General, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Lawyer Ryan W. Bounds is prosecuting the scenario. 

Any individual with information about allegations of tried fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by contacting the Justice Department’s Nationwide Centre for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or by using the NCDF Internet Grievance Variety at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-grievance-variety.