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Officials: 2 sought virus loans for nonexistent businesses

August 28, 2020 GMT

MIAMI (AP) — A South Florida man and woman are accused of trying to obtain $1.1 million in federal coronavirus relief loans for businesses that didn’t exist.

Latoya Stanley, 38, and Johnny Philus, 33, who are neighbors in Miami, were charged in a complaint unsealed Wednesday with wire fraud and making false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a news release.

The complaint alleges that Stanley claimed to employ 18 people for a beauty supply business and five for a farm at her Miami home. According to prosecutors, Philus claimed to employ 29 people for his car company and another 10 at a farm in his yard. Stanley and Philus both live in residential homes with small yards, officials said.

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Online court records didn’t list attorneys for Stanley or Philus who could comment on the case.

The Paycheck Protection Program represents billions of dollars in forgivable small business loans for Americans struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which became federal law in March.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.