Florida man charged with fraud for using $4M Covid-19 relief fund to purchase Lamborghini, other luxury items

David T Hines was charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds


                            Florida man charged with fraud for using $4M Covid-19 relief fund to purchase Lamborghini, other luxury items
David T Hines (Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department)

A Florida man was arrested and charged with fraud and other criminal offenses after he received approximately $3.9 million as coronavirus relief funds and used the money to buy a Lamborghini. The 29-year-old man, David T Hines, was arrested on Friday, July 24, and charged on Monday, July 27, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice, Time reports. 

The statement read, "A Florida man was arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining $3.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using those funds, in part, to purchase a sports car for himself. Authorities seized a $318,000 sports car and $3.4 million from bank accounts at the time of the arrest."

"David T Hines, 29, of Miami, Florida, was charged by criminal complaint, unsealed today upon his initial appearance before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan in the Southern District of Florida, with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds," it added. 

Authorities have said that Hines had applied for around $13.5 million under the Paycheck Protection Program loans for a few companies. The PPP is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. This act had been enacted on March 29 in order to provide small businesses with forgivable loans. Any money that is handed to a company as part of the program is to be used for rent, mortgage, employee salaries, and utilities. 

According to the Department of Justice, Hines lied on the loan applications and had made some inaccurate statements about the expenses of the companies which includes the amount paid to employees. US Postal Inspector Bryann Masmela says in an affidavit, as per the Miami Herald. "Those purported employees either did not exist or earned a fraction of what Hines claimed in his PPP applications."

"Collectively, Hines falsely claimed his companies paid millions of dollars in payroll in the first quarter of 2020. State and bank records, however, show little to no payroll expense during this period," Masmela says. 

Assistant US Attorney Michael Berger had said certain SBA loan scammers have been able to exploit the Payroll Protection Program as the federal agency has been guaranteeing the coronavirus relief loans without checking any of the claims in their applications, Miami Herald reports. 

Hines had been approved for funding and received around $3.9 million. He bought the Lamborghini for $318,000 only a few days after getting the money and also allegedly purchased other luxury items from stores and resorts. Hines was in federal custody over the weekend and was released on bond on Monday, June 27. He is scheduled to be arraigned on October 14.

This is not his first run-in with the law. Back in 2018, Hines had flagged down a police officer to say that his girlfriend had stolen his Lamborghini. When authorities located the car, Hines had become uncooperative and was eventually arrested. Hines had received a probationary sentence for resisting an officer without violence, a misdemeanor. 

Over the past few weeks, Florida has become one of the hotspots for US coronavirus cases. 

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving Covid-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. 

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