Baton Rouge woman pleads guilty to filing over $1 million in fraudulent PPP, EIDL applications
A Baton Rouge woman pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in connection with numerous false and fraudulent applications for funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program in 2020 and 2021.
United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe Jr. announced that 30-year-old Tiera R. Lands entered the plea in the Middle District of Louisiana.
According to admissions made as part of her guilty plea, Lands owned and operated several businesses in Baton Rouge, including Virtuous Credit Solutions, and Virtuous Call Center. Through her businesses, she offered a variety of services, including credit counseling, tax preparation and assistance obtaining business financing and loans.
Beginning about March 2020, and continuing through April 2021, she devised a scheme to defraud the United States, through the United States Small Business Administration, and two participating PPP lenders, by filing numerous false and fraudulent applications for EIDL and PPP funds, both in the names of her own businesses and the names of other individuals and businesses located in the Baton Rouge area.
The SBA disbursed about $450,000 in funds to which neither Lands nor the named applicants were entitled.
Lands submitted numerous fraudulent tax documents and payroll records, and she caused an authorized PPP lander to disburse nearly $250,000 in funds to which neither she nor the named applicants were entitled.
In total, the false and fraudulent applications Lands admitted filing caused a total actual and intended loss of more than $1.1 million.
Lands also admitted that she would receive proceeds from her fraudulent activity in cash, and as she did so, she would deposit the cash into her business bank account and structure the deposits so as to conceal the source of the funds and avoid triggering transaction reporting requirements.
The matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by AUSA Alan Stevens, who also serves as Senior Litigation Counsel for the United States Attorney’s Office, AUSA Brad Casey and AUSA April Leon Johnson.