Ronald A. Smith’s scam defrauded people of $ 1,076,000. Authorities say he also fraudulently received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NORFOLK, VA. – On Friday, a Virginia Beach man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently taking over $ 1 million from loan-seeking victims.
According to a Justice Department press release, 60-year-old Ronald A. Smith’s fraud has defrauded nearly 1,700 people of $ 1,076,000. According to authorities, Smith also fraudulently received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials said Smith cheated on people from the company he shared with his wife and co-defendant Terri Miller: Business Development Group. This online company announced that it could help applicants obtain Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for a fee.
Most of the Business Development Group’s customers have never seen these loans. The DOJ said in many cases that customers were not offered any assistance with their applications.
Between 2012 and 2018, the authorities contacted potential customers based on false, fraudulent and misleading statements and representations, including:
- The company was headquartered in the Trump Building in New York City and had additional offices in Las Vegas
- that it was affiliated with the SBA
- that it had favorable relationships with banks across the country
- It had assisted well-known large companies in obtaining SBA loans
Smith was charged with nearly identical fraud in 2006 and sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.
Regardless of his company’s credit fraud cases, Smith also pleaded guilty to filing for unemployment under the CARES Act while in the business. He took US $ 9,600 in pandemic unemployment checks “to which he was not entitled”.