A West L.A. man named Andrew Marnell was arrested on suspicion of allegedly defrauding $9 million in coronavirus relief money – and then heading to Vegas to gamble with the loot. If convicted, Marnell faces up to 30 years in prison.
Andrew Marnell allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications to bilk $9 million in coronavirus relief money from the CARES program. The federal program was designed to be a lifeline for people suffering job loss and financial burdens due to unemployment amid coronavirus lockdowns.
Marnell took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program funds to set up accounts which he used to make risky stock trades and fund gambling sprees in Las Vegas. Security camera footage provided by the U.S. Dept. of Justice shows a mohawk-sporting Marnell at the tables and slots in the Bellagio, where he reportedly lost over $150,000 between July 9 and 11. He also splurged at several other casinos on the Strip during his Vegas spending spree.
Another piece of evidence in the criminal complaint against Marnell showed one brokerage account with losses of over $2,770,000 for the month of June. He allegedly obtained millions in federal PPP money by submitting fraudulent claims and setting up brokerage accounts for stock trading. And then he squandered the rest in Vegas.
Marnell was arrested and held without bail on federal charges of bank fraud. The 40-year-old resident of Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, will return to court, where he faces charges of up to 30 years in prison for fraud and misappropriation of federal funds. But Marnell isn’t the only fraudster stealing from public funds.
The number of fraud cases involving misappropriation of coronavirus funding is keeping prosecutors busy round the clock. Authorities report dealing with tens of thousands of cases involving fraud attempts and scams all aimed at grabbing a piece of the $2.2-trillion coronavirus relief funds. Most fraud cases involve criminals falsely claiming to own small businesses with large numbers of employees – which do not exist.
And the fraud is not limited to a few thousand cowboys trying to make off with the loot. Many scammers are targeting the legitimate recipients of federal funds as well, claiming they can help people claim their money faster and in greater amounts. Tens of millions of dollars have been scammed from these people.
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