Judge Sends Methuen Man, 27, to Prison Two Years for Fake Pandemic Business Loans

John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse. (Beyond My Ken, Creative Commons.))

A 27-year-old Methuen man was sentenced late last week in U.S. District Court in Boston for using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain $452,000 in pandemic business relief money and laundering the funds.

Ramon Joseph Cruz Jr. was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to two years and one day in prison and three years of supervised release for obtaining a phony Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration. He was also ordered to pay restitution in an amount that will be determined at a future hearing. Last May 18, Cruz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting.

According to court records, between about April and December 2020, Cruz and Darwyn Joseph conspired to use stolen identity information of U.S. citizens to apply for the loans. They used stolen identities to open fraudulent bank accounts which were then linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the federal money. Cruz and Joseph also received some of the debit cards for those fraudulent bank accounts and then—to hide the source of the money—used $250,000 to purchase large numbers of iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for resale. They also wired a portion of the money to the Dominican Republic.

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