KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A man in Prairie Village, Kansas was convicted in federal court today for engaging in two separate fraud schemes linked to millions of dollars in bogus payday loans and tax evasion totaling over $ 8 million.
“After raising millions of dollars from the victims of his fraud scheme, the accused repeatedly lied and used every trick in the book to hide his ill-gotten gain from the IRS,” the US prosecutor said Acting Teresa A. Moore. “He’s spent lavishly on jets and luxury cars, but hasn’t voluntarily paid a dime in taxes owed for over a decade. Adding insult to injury, he even fraudulently obtained a government loan under the Paycheck Protection Program after working for so many years to deceive American taxpayers.
Joel Jerome Tucker, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to 12 years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Tucker to pay $ 8,057,079 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and to confiscate $ 5,000 from the government, the amount of stolen goods transferred across state lines, as reported in the specific charge to which he pleaded guilty.
FBI Acting Special Agent Michael E. Hensle said, “Tucker defrauded hundreds of thousands of innocent victims and the US government for his own personal gain. While most people strive to make a living honestly and live the American Dream, Tucker has chosen to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of working Americans. The FBI will continue to prosecute and bring to justice individuals who take advantage of others for profit and believe themselves above the law. “
“Tucker used the proceeds of his criminal activity to lead a lavish lifestyle and defraud the American people. His conviction shows that the courts take tax and related fraud seriously, ”said Amanda Prestegard, Acting Special Agent in charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Field Office in St. Louis. “IRS-CI aggressively investigates and uncovers complex financial crimes to disrupt criminal activity impacting the US tax system. “
Tucker, working through various companies, handled the payday loan companies. The names of Tucker’s companies have changed over the years; the main company was eData Solutions, LLC. eData, formally registered on July 29, 2009, did not grant loans directly to borrowers; it collected information about loan applications, called leads, and sold those leads to its approximately 70 payday lender clients. As a loan manager, eData has also provided software for payday lenders.
Tucker and the other eData owners sold the business to the Wyandotte Indian Tribe in 2012. However, despite the sale of his stake in eData, Tucker kept a record of 7.8 million leads that he had acquired through eData, containing detailed customer information (including names, addresses, bank accounts, social security numbers, dates of birth, etc.). eData had collected detailed customer information from online payday loan applications or inquiries to its payday lending customers; the file did not represent the loans granted. In addition, Tucker obtained and maintained data regarding overdue payday loans that eData had acquired from a number of different payday lending clients. Tucker used these files to create forged debt portfolios.
On July 16, 2020, Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of transporting stolen money across state borders as part of the Debt Fraud Scheme, to one count of bankruptcy fraud and to one count of tax evasion. The government also alleged in court records that Tucker had engaged in another fraud scheme that had not been charged in this case, by fraudulently receiving funds under the payroll protection program. .
Debt fraud system
Tucker admitted that he engaged in a fraudulent debt scheme from 2014 to 2016. This scheme involved the marketing, distribution and sale of fake debt portfolios. Tucker defrauded third-party debt collectors and millions of individuals listed as debtors by selling fake debt portfolios. Tucker sold supposed debts: 1) that he did not personally own; 2) were not genuine debts; 3) had already been sold to other buyers; and 4) contained bogus lenders, bogus loan dates, bogus loan amounts, and bogus payment status. Some of the “debtors” had requested only one loan but never received one, either because they had withdrawn their request or because the loan was not funded. Some of the debtors listed, however, actually paid the debt collectors out of fear or confusion as to what they owed. Tucker received up to $ 7.3 million from the sale of fake debt portfolios in just two years, from early 2014 to early 2016.
As part of his fraud scheme, Tucker transferred the proceeds of the fraud scheme across state lines.
Bankruptcy fraud system
Tucker also admitted that he executed a related bankruptcy fraud scheme in 2015 and 2016. In his bankruptcy fraud scheme, Tucker also sold fraudulent debts, which went to US bankruptcy courts at nationwide. When the United States Bankruptcy Court investigated these alleged debts, which were presented as claims in bankruptcy cases, Tucker repeatedly lied under oath by providing false information and testimony to the bankruptcy court in order to cover up his ploy.
On April 15, 2014, the United States Tax Court ruled that Tucker owed tax deficiencies from 2007 and 2008. The total amount owed in 2014, with interest and penalties, was 8,057,079.95 $. For the 2014 to 2016 tax years, neither Tucker personally nor any of his corporations filed federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. According to court documents, Tucker now owes approximately $ 12 million in taxes, interest and penalties for 2007 to 2014. According to court documents, Tucker never made voluntary payments on his tax debt.
Tucker told IRS agents he had no income and lived on borrowed money, including a lot of money borrowed from his mother. In fact, the bank accounts showed that Tucker had sent money to his mother rather than borrowing money from her. Tucker used nominee bank accounts to conceal income and assets and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on personal living expenses such as vehicles, charter jets, travel and entertainment, and personal residence.
For example, Tucker leased a $ 1.59 million house in Prairie Village, bought a Cadillac Escalade for $ 105,367, spent $ 226,000 on private jet services, spent over $ 75,000 to lease a Porsche and a Ferrari, spent $ 17,536 at The Arrabelle, a luxury hotel in Vail. , Colorado, made $ 50,000 in payments to the Vail Mountain Club, made a total of $ 682,437 in payments to American Express, and made cash withdrawals totaling nearly $ 200,000.
Paycheque Protection Program Fraud
According to court documents, a month before pleading guilty to financial crimes, Tucker fraudulently obtained a PPP loan while denying that he was charged.
Tucker submitted a loan application to the Small Business Administration for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on June 13, 2020. Tucker was originally charged on June 5, 2018. A replacement indictment has been issued. discharged May 21, 2019. Thus, Tucker had been under federal indictment for two years by the time he completed the P3 loan application. Question 5 of the request asked: “The applicant (if it is an individual) … is he the subject of an indictment, a criminal investigation, an indictment? or other means by which formal criminal charges are laid in a jurisdiction, or currently incarcerated, or on probation or parole? “Immediately before this question, the loan application document states that” If questions (5) or (6) receive a ‘Yes’ response, the loan will not be approved. ”(original emphasis) Tucker responded no and electronically signed the request.
Due to Tucker’s false attestation, his loan application of $ 20,833 was approved and he received the funds on June 16, 2020.
Although Tucker has not been criminally charged in connection with the fraudulent loan, the court considered these actions relevant behavior in determining today’s sentence.
This case was continued by US Assistant Prosecutors Kathleen D. Mahoney and Patrick D. Daly. He was investigated by the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the United States Bankruptcy Trustee in the Southern District of Texas.
COVID-19 Fraud Control Working Group
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
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 Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.