Rhode Island Man Indicted In Virus Relief Fraud Scheme

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man has been indicted in a scheme to fraudulently apply for unemployment funds and economic relief for small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtney Hilaire, 28, faces federal charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Rhode Island U.S. attorney's said. An attorney for Hilaire declined to comment.

Prosecutors say the Providence man got Social Security numbers from the internet and submitted at least six applications for unemployment insurance payments from the state of Pennsylvania funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Using the moniker “Mr. Vacation,” authorities say Hilaire also solicited the help of another person to defraud the Small Business Association, prosecutors say. Authorities say Hilaire filed at least 28 bogus applications for CARES Act Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which are designed to help small businesses struggling during the pandemic.