VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Virginia Beach business owner is facing federal charges for taking COVID-19 relief money and spending it on himself when it was supposed to be used for business.
39-year-old Scott Suber from Virginia Beach is facing one count of bank fraud.
He owns the business Debris or Not Debris Property Preservation Inc.
His lawyer, Scott Hallauer said Suber admits to taking money from the Paycheck Protection Program and misusing it.
He said Suber put his trust into the wrong people when filing out the loan application, takes full responsibility for what happened and plans to plead guilty in the Norfolk Federal Courthouse.
“I think people were desperate. I think the government was rushing to get the money out. I think this particular application should’ve never been approved but people were struggling. Scott Suber is a new business owner. I think he was desperate, and he put his trust in the wrong people and he made some bad decisions and he’s taking responsibility now for those decisions, trying to make it right,” said Hallauer.
The $350,000 dollars was given to him through the PPP assistance program was supposed to be used for his payroll, lease, and utilities but instead he is accused of making large cash withdrawals and spending the money on travel to Las Vegas, according to records.
Through this loan program, Congress awarded hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses, for the purpose of helping them through the pandemic.
Economics Expert and Professor at ODU Bob McNab said it is unclear how big of problem fraud with the COVID-19 relief funds extend, but said we will see more people facing charges if the Department of Justice puts more resources into investigating the issue.
“We just don’t know the true extent of the fraud but we do know that when you put a large pot of money out there, some people just can’t resist the temptation,” said McNab.
He said fraud takes money from businesses that need it.
“Unfortunately, when you have very large programs trying to push a lot of money out the door in very quick fashion some people are going to take advantage of it,” said McNab.
McNab said problems with fraud will call for tighter restrictions in the future if more loan money is approved to be given out.
“We need to stimulate the economy to prevent further tragedy in an economy sense, but also to steward the funds to the best of our ability to make sure the taxpayers are confident that the government is spending the funds to the best of their ability,” said McNab.