A North Carolina man is facing federal fraud charges after allegedly receiving more than $1.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans for fake businesses with names based on the TV show “Game of Thrones.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged 38-year-old Tristan Bishop Pan, or Garner, North Carolina, with wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions for taking money from a program intended to help out small businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prosecutors say Pan used business names like White Walker, Khaleesi and The Night’s Watch to receive PPP loans using false tax filings and false statements regarding employees and payroll expenses.
The federal government approved more than $1.7 million in loans for Pan, who prosecutors say had sent 14 applications seeking a total of more than $6.1 million from the government.
Some of the money has since been seized, according to prosecutors.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has been giving out PPP loans to qualifying businesses since it was created as part of the CARES Act for coronavirus relief back in March. Qualifying businesses can receive a loan to cover payroll costs, interest on mortgage, rent and utilities, at a 1% interest rate. Businesses can have the loans forgiven if 60% or more of the loan is used to cover payroll costs, mortgages or rent, and utilities.
Controversy erupted shortly after the program began in the spring when several large companies were discovered to have received PPP loans. Some, like Shake Shack and the owners of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, quickly returned their loans to the government after the public relations backlash.
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