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North Carolina Man Convicted in Scheme to Use Stolen Identities to Obtain COVID-19 Relief Monies

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New Bern, N.C. – Dexter Duncan, 24, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit money laundering with respect to the fraudulent proceeds of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) COVID-19 loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Duncan faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced next year in addition to restitution and a potential fine.

“This defendant used stolen identities to pilfer money our nation set aside to help small businesses crippled by the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “He squirreled the funds into bank accounts under his control for his personal benefit and or under the control of his co-conspirators. My office will continue to partner with law enforcement at every level to hold COVID fraudsters accountable for their misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

As part of his scheme to defraud, Duncan used stolen personal identities to apply for EIDL benefits. Each loan application submitted by Duncan contained false statements, misrepresentations and omissions related to, among other things, income, employment, and claimed business entities. Duncan signed various financial documents, including loan and security agreements, using stolen identities that Duncan obtained from a co-conspirator. Duncan deposited the loan funds into his personal bank account and other bank accounts within his control. In total, Duncan received $180,900 in fraudulent loan proceeds.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. accepted the plea.  Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation.  Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa K. Labresh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aakash Singh are prosecuting the case.

The Eastern District of North Carolina’s COVID Task Force is a part of an effort to coordinate COVID-related fraud investigations and prosecutions in Eastern North Carolina.  On May 17, 2021, the United States Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.   For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-cr-00196-FL.

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Florida police cameras show August arrests for alleged voter fraud

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CNN
 — 

Newly obtained police body camera video shows Tampa Police officers arresting confused and stunned convicted felons for allegedly voting illegally in the 2020 election.

“I voted, but I ain’t commit no fraud,” Romona Oliver can be heard saying on police body cam video obtained from the Tampa Police Department. “I got out. The guy told me that I was free and clear to go vote or whatever because I had done my time,” she said. Oliver’s attorney says she received a voter registration card and thought she was eligible to vote.

The videos, first reported by The Tampa Bay Times, provide a fresh glimpse into a far-reaching state operation earlier this summer to crack down on supposed voter fraud.

Romona Oliver Bodycam footage from 10/18/22

On August 18, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 20 individuals accused of illegally voting in the 2020 election. He unveiled the charges at a celebratory news conference at the Broward County Courthouse, where he was flanked by police officers and state Attorney General Ashley Moody.

“As convicted murderers and felony sex offenders, none of the individuals were eligible to vote,” DeSantis said.

“They did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyway,” DeSantis said at the time. “That is against the law, and now they’re going to pay the price for it.”

Mark Rankin, a Tampa-based attorney, who is representing Oliver pro-bono, told CNN that Oliver served almost 20 years in state prison for a conviction for second degree murder.

“She served her time and got out. And she got out around the time that Amendment 4 was passed, which affected the rights of felons to vote. Her understanding was that felons had their rights restored.”

Rankin says Oliver was approached at the bus stop one day on the way to work by someone registering voters, and she told them she was a felon. The person then told Oliver that she could fill out the form and if she was eligible, she would get a voter registration card and if she wasn’t eligible, she wouldn’t get the card.

Oliver received a voter registration card in the mail. She went to the Department of Motor Vehicles office later to get a new driver’s license and was sent an updated voter registration card with her new address, according to Rankin.

“She was twice told by the State of Florida and the local Supervisor of Elections, ‘Here’s your voter registration card. You are, as far as we’re concerned, legally eligible to vote.’ And so she voted and she was shocked when she was arrested.”

“She was shocked and upset because she thought her rights had been restored by the amendment. She didn’t know any different. And the State of Florida, she believed, was telling her that she was eligible to vote. And now she’s had the rug pulled out from under her. She never would have voted if she knew that she was ineligible,” Rankin said.

Oliver pleaded not guilty to the illegal voting charge and has a trial set for December in Hillsborough County. County records show she was released on her own recognizance the same day she was arrested.

The Tampa Police Department conducted arrests on behalf of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the originating agency for the investigation, a police department spokesperson told CNN.

CNN also reached out to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which was involved in some of the arrests.

The arrests marked the first public demonstration of the Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security, a controversial new investigative agency created this year and championed by DeSantis to probe voting irregularities. Created under a sweeping bill passed this year to overhaul voting in Florida, the office was given a staff of 15 to initiate probes and allowed DeSantis to assign 10 state law enforcement officers to help investigate election crimes.

But almost immediately after the state announced the charges, questions began to surface about the arrests and whether the individuals knew they were violating the law when they cast a ballot.

According to state law, it is the job of the Florida Department of State to “identify those registered voters who have been convicted of a felony” and “notify the supervisor and provide a copy of the supporting documentation indicating the potential ineligibility of the voter to be registered.”

In the five counties where there were arrests, the local supervisor of elections office told CNN that the state did not inform their offices that the arrested individuals were ineligible to vote.

DeSantis continued to defend the arrests and in a later news conference blamed some local election offices who, he said, “just don’t care about the election laws.”

But the Office of Election Crimes and Security wrote a letter to an elections supervisor that the individuals voted illegally “through no fault of your own.” The letter, obtained by CNN, was sent on August 18 by Pete Antonacci, who served as the first director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security until he died September 23 after a medical episode at the Florida state Capitol.

The arrests captured in police body cam footage also are illustrative of the confusion that still surrounds a successful 2018 constitutional amendment in Florida to restore the voting rights of some felons that had completed their sentences.

The constitutional amendment, approved overwhelmingly by voters in a statewide referendum, said people convicted of murder and certain sex crimes were not eligible to have their rights restored.

But the law that implemented the constitutional amendment specified that an ineligible felon who erroneously votes is in violation of the law if they “willfully submit any false voter registration information.” State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican and the sponsor of that legislation, has said on social media that most convicted felons have no intent to break the law.

After the Tampa Bay Times published the body cam video, Brandes tweeted from his verified account, “Looks like the opposite of ‘willingly,’” and he suggested that state will struggle to prove its case in court.

“I hope they have the courage to drop charges or go to trial and produce evidence of willful intent,” Brandes wrote.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that local election offices were not informed by the state about arrested individuals’ ineligibility to vote.




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Bot’s job? Quants question AI’s model validation powers

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Can bots police bots? It’s a conundrum at the centre of many a sci-fi thriller. But now the real-world question is whether bank bots can validate their own models – or perform the crucial job of ensuring risk management models are fit for purpose. Some quants don’t think they can.

While banks already deploy artificial intelligence (AI) for many tasks – such as recognising patterns in financial data, calculating risk sensitivities or finding the optimal execution for a trade – when it comes to

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Former Iowa police officer charged with theft and fraud

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) – The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is reaching out to anyone who has had financial dealings with an Indianola man in an attempt to identify additional victims.

42-year-old Chad Koch was previously a certified police officer who worked in multiple jurisdictions around the Central Iowa area.

Beginning around April 12th, 2019, investigators say multiple cash loans were made between Koch and a lender in Polk County, Iowa. The loans were made in varying amounts and totaled in excess of $200,000.

Koch conveyed specific information as to his intentions with the loan proceeds, including bill payments, paying overdue child support, and other obligations. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that certain misrepresentations were made by Koch to the lender in the original loan terms and in the supporting documentation that he provided.

During the investigation account balances, account activity, and other documents showed inconsistencies when compared to the documents Koch provided the lender. Multiple documented attempts to secure repayment from Koch were reportedly met with delay, avoidance, additional explanation, and false representation of repayment intent.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of Theft in the First Degree and two counts of Fraudulent Practices in Polk County after an investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact DCI Special Agent Chris Forsyth at (319) 883-6108 or forsyth@dps.state.ia.us


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