Feds foil DC man’s $31 million COVID-19 relief scheme

A D.C. man who attempted to steal more than $31 million in CARES Act funds reserved for struggling businesses during the pandemic will now spend the next 10 years in prison. 

A judge handed down the sentence Tuesday to 31-year-old Elias Eldabbagh in a D.C. District Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday. 

Authorities said the D.C. native used stolen identities, stolen tax returns, and stolen financial records from a local consulting company to fraudulently apply for at least 25 Paycheck Protection Program loans and at least four false Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

The PPP loans were worth more than $30 million, while the State’s Attorney’s Office said the EIDL applications totaled $950,000. 

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“This defendant shamelessly took advantage of a global health crisis to create his own get-rich scheme at the expense of the government’s COVID relief programs,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves said in a statement. “He stole more than $2.3 million – and tried to collect many millions more – that was targeted for small businesses and employees struggling to get by.”

Instead, authorities said Eldabbagh used his company, Alias Systems, LLC, to wire the proceeds of his scheme to at least 13 separate bank and brokerage accounts. He used the funds to purchase a Tesla Model 3, pay for hotels, dog boarding, invest in stocks and crypto, and other personal expenses. 

After he serves his 10-year prison term, Eldabbagh will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay $2,452,050 in restitution and forfeit his Tesla. 

The judge also seized his bank accounts, as well as a money judgment in the amount of $2,385,000.