PPP and EIDL Fraud is as rampant as COVID-19. According to the front page story appearing in the New York Times April 26 edition, hundreds of millions of dollars in SBA bailout funds that were intended by the US Treasury to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19 via the Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL Loan Program have been siphoned off by public companies, private equity-backed companies and thousands of small businesses, many of the latter don’t really exist other than in name only.
To many financial crime investigators who are fluent in the failings of US government’s effort to support businesses that have suffered from the pandemic, it is no surprise that tens of millions of dollars have gone to scamsters and fraud artists, including those who have been recently indicted or have been under investigation by federal law enforcement and federal and state regulatory agencies.
Shocking?! Nah. According to one senior investigator from The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “However well-intended, the PPP and EIDL loan programs created the perfect opportunity for serial financial fraud artists to exploit loopholes that a teenager could drive a Boeing jet through. PPP and EIDL fraud is rampant.”
In addition to the assortment of rogues that were outed in the above-referenced NYT coverage, it appears that individuals running a so-called fintech company called Seaquake.io, which claims to “specialize in digital asset infrastructure” along with “crypto currency trading applications” and profiled here and other online media outlets back in October, are back at it again.
Informed sources have indicated having direct knowledge that Seaquake.io principals Andrew Katz and Matthew Krueger, who have been cited in federal court for an assortment of investor fraud and wire fraud allegations, have recently filed EIDL loan applications for as many as six different Seaquake entities, including Colorado-registered Seaquake Inc., Seaquake Manager LLC, Seaquake LP, and a California entity, Seaquake Capital LP. Each of these entities list both Andrew R. Katz and Matthew Krueger as controlling officers. AVEM Ventures LLC, a Colorado entity identified along with each of the above in a federal civil court action, lists Katz as the controlling officer and a Kenneth S. Katz as the registered agent. This entity is also believed to have applied for loans and grants intended for businesses that have been impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is only one problem, the company is a scam, according to a former business development executive for Seaquake, who worked for the company while he was also registered with Finra as a senior executive for San Francisco based brokerdealer US Capital Global. That former employee (his tenure lasted all of 7 months and he has since moved to the role of ” Director, Digital Wealth Solutions” for Apex Clearing Corp.” has stated “Seaquake is not a real business; the product(s) they claim to have are “nothing more than vaporware”; they have no employees drawing salaries other than Katz, (who recently added his wife Selen to the ‘payroll’, though it would appear that her full-time job is that of an Instagram influencer, along with Krueger and UK-based Dylan Knight, who is listed as the chief technology officer on corporate documents. This is all despite claims made on the company website as to having multiple employees; “a canard”, according to one source who says the “serial fabrications made by the company are advanced further by fraudulent representations made in an assortment of investor solicitation documents the company has sent to dozens of individuals and fund managers.”
Katz was seen in December vacationing at a resort in Cabo with his swimsuit model wife, a Turkish national whose opportunity to apply for US citizenship comes on the third anniversary of their marriage, August 2 2020. How the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or Department of Homeland Security view applicants who are married to accused money launders is only something those agencies can respond to. In early March 2020, the couple was spotted posing for photos on the beach in Southampton, New York. It is rumored that Katz is now hiding out in New York City. Neither he or his San Francisco-based partner Krueger, both accused of defrauding at least several investors, including a Florida-based family office this past August, have made themselves available for comment.
The San Francisco branch of BBVA Compass Bank, the bank of record for an assortment of Seaquake enterprises, had no comment has to whether they facilitated EIDL loan processing or payments to the Seaquake’s alleged criminal enterprise.
One can only hope that FBI and SEC efforts lead to a long-term quarantine for these individuals.