Here’s an unpleasant little story for you, just in case you were looking for something else to be annoyed at the government about. As you’re no doubt aware, when the original COVID relief bill was passed, literally tens of billions of dollars was appropriated (probably from the money tree that grows in the Rose Garden) to deliver help to small businesses around the country.This assistance came in the form of grants and forgivable loans, depending on which program you applied to. The money was flowing out in a fast and furious fashion as the government rushed to make sure nobody could accuse them of not responding to the crisis.
One person who benefitted handsomely from the program was Jorge Abrmovs of Las Vegas. He ran a legal office there named the National Investment Group Corporation where he employed anywhere from 17 to 49 employees who were in danger of losing their livelihood if the firm didn’t receive help from the feds. But Uncle Sam came through with flying colors, sending Abramovs nearly two million dollars in relief funds, saving the day. The large range of the possible number of employees at NIGC is caused by the fact that the company doesn’t appear to exist. So where did the “relief funds” wind up going? Jorge allegedly used it to buy some very high-end luxury automobiles and condos on the strip. (NY Post)
A Las Vegas man allegedly stole about $2 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds meant for small businesses — all so he could buy luxury cars and homes, prosecutors said.
Jorge Abramovs has been charged with bank fraud after allegedly applying for Paycheck Protection Program funds between April and June 2020, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Prosecutors charged that Abramovs used a variety of company names, including National Investment Group Corporation, National Legal Advisors In Care Of and National Investment Group, when applying for the aid.
I did some digging into the records for this character and everything being claimed by the feds appears to check out. You can visit this site that tracks all of the Paycheck Protection Program loans and see one of the ones awarded to National Investment Group Corporation. The linked record indicates one loan of more than $147,000 which proudly proclaims that 17 jobs were saved through the benevolence of the federal government. The other loans are listed there as well.
I noticed that the business address of NIGC was listed on the loan report as being 5588 Ford Road South, Las Vegas. Just for fun, I decided to dive into Google Maps street view and check out the joint. As it turns out, there’s no way to tell if there is even a building with the street number 5588 on that road. The closest I could get was this intersection. It’s a residential neighborhood and not a particularly well-appointed one. There is nothing there resembling an office building of any sort, to say nothing of one large enough to hold as many as nearly fifty employees.
While I understand that the government can’t personally send someone out to physically inspect the business offices of everyone who applies for a relief loan or grant, surely they have to look and see if there’s any record of the company existing paying taxes, and conducting business, right? Did anyone even bother in the case of Jorge Abramovs? From all accounts, the government sent a total of $1, 986, 737 in at least four different tranches to someone with an entirely fictional operation. How many more of those are out there waiting to be discovered? Surely Jorge wasn’t the only one to think of this scheme.
The guy brought home a 2020 Bentley Continental and a 2020 Tesla. He snagged two luxury condominiums valued at more than $200K and $400K respectively. And he did it all with American taxpayer money. Sure, he’ll probably wind up doing some time over this, but what are the odds that the government ever recoups that cash? I’m guessing it’s slim to none, and slim already left town.
The PPP program was generous and I have no doubt that a lot of very real companies received much-needed help and some jobs were saved. But hustlers and thieves are always attracted like flies to honey any time a huge amount of money is pooled in one place. Our government knows this perfectly well. So before we go doling out another massive relief package on Joe Biden’s watch, perhaps we should ask who will be overseeing all of this government largesse to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, or at least is minimized as much as possible.