Retail worker pleads guilty to fraudulently seeking $8 million+ through CARES Act program

A project manager employed by a major retailer has pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges for fraudulently seeking more than $8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) bank loans, the Federal Deposit Insurance Crop. (FDIC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) said Monday.

The OIG said that Benjamin Hayford, 32, of Centerton, Ark., pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and four counts of false statements to a financial institution before a U.S. district court judge in the Northern District of Oklahoma. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 4.

As part of his guilty plea, the OIG reported, Hayford admitted that he sought millions of dollars in forgivable PPP loans (backed by the Small Business Administration, which administers the PPP created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act [CARES Act]) from multiple banks by claiming fictitious payroll expenses and providing falsified supporting documentation. It said Hayford also admitted to making false representations to a financial institution concerning the date that a limited liability partnership for which he applied for relief was established.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) OIG, FDIC OIG, and SBA OIG.

Arkansas Project Manager Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and False Statements in Connection With Covid-Relief Fraud