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A Night on the Town: Florida Man Commits Covid Fraud, Buys Lamborghini

July 28, 2020

Today we bring you another story of the ever present “Florida Man.” Now profiting through COVID fraud by obtaining $4 million from the Paycheck Protection Program to buy a Lamborghini Huracan EVO, among other goodies. But we begin by setting the mood with the immortal words of Janis Joplin:

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me
I wait for delivery each day until three
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down
Prove that you love me and buy the next round
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town

Janis Joplin, 1971


We’ve been saying for awhile now that there would be twin tsunamis of fraud coming in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. These would come, we predicted, in two broad categories:

  • COVID fraud involving health care fraud – any of the variety of types of false claims that can be generated in the medical field, particularly in times of chaos and stress on accountability systems, and
  • COVID financial relief fraud – scams based on false claims of eligibility for federal funds, false certifications that the funds had been spent as required under loan conditions, etc.  

We were neither geniuses nor clairvoyant in making these predictions. The history of fraud in the United States shows, without exception, that when federal largesse is sprung upon a needy situation, particularly in emergencies, opportunists pounce. They always have before, so it seemed inevitable they would again.

Anticipating these phenomena, prosecutors, investigators, and whistleblower attorneys across the country prepared for that inevitability. And the cases are starting to come in.

This week’s poster child for greed and stupidity is Mr. David Hines, a 29 year old businessman in Florida who owns a moving company. Hines sought $4 million in relief under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, in which business owners could obtain low interest loans if they spent the money keeping employees on payroll. If certain conditions were met, these loans would be forgiven entirely.

According to the federal criminal complaint, no sooner did the first fruits of Mr. Hines’s COVID fraud come through than he wired $318,000 to a car dealer for a new Lamborghini Huracan EVO.  He also allegedly bought $8,500 in jewelry and a few nights at luxury hotels.

Because of Mr. Hines’ brazenness, it is fair to say that this case falls in the category of Low Hanging Fruit on the prosecutorial menu. There is a limit to how much a creative defense lawyer can conjure to explain away Lamborghinis paid with cash mere hours after a federal loan for payroll purposes arrives.

There will be many more cases of COVID fraud. Some will be Low Hanging Fruit, others will be more sophisticated. Some, like Mr. Hines’ case, will just make you shake your head and ask: “What on Earth was he thinking?”

Mr. Hines will undoubtedly have a “time out period” to reflect a bit on that question himself.