Updated January 22, 2021 - 6:16 pm
A Nevada man has been charged with fraudulently obtaining nearly $2 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program money, meant for struggling small businesses, to purchase luxury cars and two luxury condominiums in Las Vegas.
Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Nevada said, in an unsealed criminal complaint that charges Jorge Abramovs with one count of bank fraud, that the Las Vegas man allegedly applied for PPP funds between April and June 2020 to at least seven banks.
Abramovs “misrepresented the number of employees and the amount of revenue and payroll his companies had” to the banks, according to the complaint.
A court-appointed defense attorney for Abramovs did not respond to calls or email requests for comment.
Multiple PPP applications
Using a variety of company names when Abramovs filed for the PPP funds — National Investment Group Corporation, National Legal Advisors In Care Of, and National Investment Group — “each of the 12 applications below listed variations of this S. Fort Apache Road address as the business address for the applying entity,” according to the charging document.
In one PPP application Abramovs filed, he claimed NIGC had 18 employees with an average monthly payroll of $64,797, the complaint said. In another, Abramovs claimed NIGC had 49 employees and an average monthly payroll of $55,235.
In total, Abramovs allegedly obtained $1,986,737.46 in fraudulent PPP loan funds, according to the complaint.
On each of the PPP loan applications, Abramovs certified that he would not receive another PPP loan; instead, prosecutors allege, Abramovs received at least six loans in the name of NIGC and at least five loans in the name of NLA.
The money, Abramovs indicated in his PPP loan applications, would be used toward rent and payroll.
Luxury cars, homes
But financial statements tell another story.
Prosecutors allege that PPP funds Abramovs obtained illegally went toward himself.
“Financial analysis shows that Abramovs spent the money on purchases of luxury items for himself, including the purchase of a 2020 Bentley, a 2020 Tesla, and two condominiums located in Veer Towers in Las Vegas, Nevada,” according to the criminal complaint.
Abramovs purchased a 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible on June 3 for $260,982 with taxes and fees. Two weeks later, on June 18, Abramovs purchased a 2020 Tesla Model 3 for $54,904.25 after a trade-in.
Investigators also found that Abramovs purchased two luxury condos at the Veer Towers in Las Vegas. The first condo purchase was in late May, and “financial analysis found that of the $225,638.59 spent to purchase this condominium, approximately 80% constituted criminal proceeds from Abramov’s PPP loan fraud scheme,” according to the complaint.
In June, Abramovs purchased another condo in the same building, this time for $412,000. Federal investigators, combing through the bank statements, found that 99 percent of the funding “constituted criminal proceeds from Abramovs’ alleged PPP fraud scheme.”
In August, federal authorities inquired with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to see if there were any payments of unemployment insurance; employers who pay more than $225 of payroll in any quarter for employees are required by Nevada law to pay unemployment insurance.
DETR found no records of any UI payments made by NIGC, a company of which Abramovs allegedly is the president, secretary, treasurer and director.
Federal investigators began surveilling the company’s storefront during the fall, according to the complaint.
A detention hearing for Abramovs was held early Friday morning and he was ordered remanded in custody.
Federal law enforcement has clamped down on fraud as it relates to the CARES Act signed into law in March.
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich, Nevada’s top federal prosecutor, told the Review-Journal last month that as a result of recent funding from the Department of Justice, the office will add an assistant U.S. attorney whose focus will be prosecuting CARES Act-related fraud cases.