Methuen Man and Lawrence Man—Both 24—Charged With Taking Half Million in Disaster Money

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A Methuen man and a Lawrence man—both 24-years-old—were arrested Monday and charged in federal court in Boston with using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain near a half million in disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.

Ramon Joseph Cruz, of Methuen, and Darwyn Joseph, of Lawrence, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Following initial appearances in U.S. District Court, they were ordered held pending hearings Wednesday.

According to U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office, the men were involved in a conspiracy to use stolen identity information of United States citizens to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans. They were said to have used stolen identity information to open fraudulent bank accounts, which were then linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the loans. They also allegedly received through the mail some of the debit cards associated with fraudulent bank accounts into which SBA money was deposited, and then laundered $250,000 of the money by purchasing large numbers of iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for resale.

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