December 6, 2023

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Vinicius Santana arrested for $2.5 million COVID-relief fraud, officials say he bought cryptocurrency and spent $90,000 at Audi dealership

A former Massachusetts business owner was arrested after officials said he fraudulently obtained $2.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, instead spending that money on cryptocurrency and cars.

Vinicius Santana, 34, was charged with one count of wire fraud. He was previously from of Revere but was living in Boca Raton, Florida when he was arrested Monday evening at Miami International Airport, officials said.

Court documents state that Santana owned Complete Home Care, LLC (CHC), a painting company in Massachusetts. And In April 2020, he submitted four different PPP loan applications on behalf of the company.

In the first three applications, Santana listed five employees and an average monthly payroll of between $10,000 and $18,000, officials said. But they were denied.

“In the fourth application for CHC, it is alleged that Santana falsely claimed to have 154 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1 million,” a statement read. “On May 11, 2020, a bank issued Santana’s company a $2,500,000 loan based on the alleged false representations in the fourth application.”

Officials said Santana then “misused” the loans for other payments.

On May 14, 2020, Santana used $7,861.12 of the money to pay off a car load he had previously obtained, according to court documents. A few days later, officials said he paid off another car loan issued by Chase Auto Finance with $9,681.

Then on July 2, court documents state that Santana paid $29,471 for a 2019 Toyota Highlander. Again, officials state, he used the account with the PPP loan in it. Later that month, Santana paid $90,000 to Audi of Burlington.

He also wired $900,000 from the account to an account at Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange, court documents read.

“On September 15, 2020, the account balance for the EBSB had fallen to $41,111.70,” court documents state. “During the time that Santana spent the majority of the PPP funds (approximately May 11, 2020, to September 20, 2020), there were no deposits greater than $1 into the CHC EBSB Account.”

Santana then moved $457,816.43 from his Kraken account into the account with the PPP load. But the money didn’t stay there for long.

Within a few days, officials said Santana authorized a bank check for $407,587.60 to the Moran Law Office for the purchase of a residential property in Lowell.

He then closed his account, officials said, and opened another one at JP Morgan Chase. Around Jan. 28, 2020, Santana transferred about $257,510 from his Kraken account to the JP Morgan Chase account, officials said.

The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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