Brothers Admit to Attempted Heist of $7.6M from COVID-19 Relief Funds


Two siblings have confessed their involvement in a scam targeting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a lifeline for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their fraudulent activities aimed to extract around $7.6 million, earmarked funds to support struggling businesses.

Larry Jordan, 45, from Lancaster, New York, and his brother, Sutukh El, who also goes by multiple aliases, including Curtis Jordan and Hugo Hurt, from Buffalo, New York, masterminded an elaborate fraud scheme spanning from April to September 2020. The duo filed eight deceptive PPP loan applications for companies they either managed or owned.

In their bid to siphon funds from the system, they provided Evolve Bank & Trust with three applications and another five to Lendio, a Utah-based financial tech firm. Central to their fraud was the false declaration about each company’s payroll expenses for 2019. This information is crucial as the Small Business Administration (SBA) relies on it to decide the appropriate loan amount. Jordan and El provided fabricated IRS documents and payroll registers to bolster their fraudulent claims. Notably, these forms were never officially filed with the IRS.

Upon securing the funds, the duo directed the money to an account overseen by El. Rather than using these funds to support their business payroll, as intended by the PPP, they misappropriated the money for personal expenses, investments, and home upgrades.

Having admitted to their crimes, the brothers now face severe legal repercussions. Both pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, exposing them to a possible prison term of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million. Additionally, Larry Jordan confessed to bank fraud and engagement in transactions with criminally derived assets. The latter can add an additional 10 years to his prison sentence. Their sentencing is slated for January 17, 2024, with a federal district court judge given the task of determining their fate.

This case’s announcement was the collective effort of various departments, including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York. Several special agents in charge from different agencies were involved in unveiling this fraud.

The ongoing investigation into the case is the collective effort of multiple agencies, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the significant resources being deployed to ensure justice.

The case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance, especially during times of crisis when fraudsters often try to exploit vulnerabilities. Small business owners who genuinely need these funds, suffer when such fraud occurs. The Justice Department urges anyone with information on similar fraudulent activities tied to COVID-19 relief to come forward.

Those with pertinent information can reach out to the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline or file a complaint online, ensuring that individuals or groups attempting to exploit the system are brought to justice.

Image: Depositphotos

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.