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Charlotte man charged with COVID-19 relief loan fraud

The 55-year-old man reportedly used the money he received 'for personal and other unauthorized purposes,' according to prosecutors.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte man is facing federal charges after prosecutors said he fraudulently applied for a $142,900 COVID-19 emergency loan.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday a federal grand jury indicted 55-year-old Bryon Jones on one count of wire fraud, one count of false statements to the Small Business Administration and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. 

Prosecutors said Jones “engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain” an Economic Injury Disaster Loan

“At a time our nation is grappling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and businesses are struggling to cope with the impact of COVID, swindlers are seizing the opportunity to pilfer federal economic relief programs to line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said. “My office is working hard to ferret out criminals who try to exploit the pandemic and steal funds intended for the economic recovery of businesses and communities across the Western District.”

RELATED: Reports: Large chunk of PPP loans went to big businesses

The wire fraud charge and the false statement charge both carry a maximum prison term of 30 years along with a $1 million fine. 

According to the indictment, Jones filed articles of Incorporation in Delaware for Ramses Air Freight & Transport Inc. on April 16, 2020, but he listed his Charlotte home as the business' primary address, which raised eyebrows at the United States Postal Service.

“The indictment further alleges that Jones, who at the time was on federal supervised release for a previous felony conviction, submitted a loan application that contained false statements and misrepresentations regarding the company’s revenues, costs, and employees and his prior criminal record. The indictment also alleges that, as a result of the fraudulent application, Jones obtained $142,900 in proceeds in June and July 2020, which he used for personal and other unauthorized purposes.”

RELATED: 15 North and South Carolina businesses received maximum $10 million PPP loans

 People who believe they may have been victims of coronavirus fraud or have information about any fraudulent activity are urged to call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submit an online complaint. People locally can also call 704-344-6222 to reach the coronavirus fraud coordinator.