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PPP fraud is ‘worst in history’: $200B stolen and splurged on Lamborghinis, beach houses and bling

Tens of thousands of fraudsters splurged on Lamborghinis, vacation homes, private jet flights and Cartier jewelry by fleecing the PPP loan system in a $200 billion heist — and did it because the COVID loan scheme was so easy to milk.

Approximately $1.2 trillion was rushed through Congress in 2020 and 2021 in COVID bailout cash for businesses and spent on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDLP) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) schemes.

But now a new report from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General reveals an astonishing 17% vanished to fraud — an estimated total of $200 billion.

And the SBA says it estimates there are more than 90,000 “actionable leads,” while it has already prosecuted dozens — including the former New York Jets wide receiver, Josh Bellamy.

The spending spree on taxpayer dollars includes Donald Finley, owner of the now-shuttered Manhattan theme restaurant Jekyll & Hyde, who purchased a Nantucket home across from Dionis Beach with waterfront views with millions of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP).

Finley faces up to 30 years in prison, and paying more than $3.2 million in restitution, plus a $1.25 million fine.

And experts say crooks created fake businesses or lied about their numbers of employees to get access to more free cash — because it was so simple to fleece the taxpayer.

“The fraud was so easy to commit. All of the information was self-reported and none of it was verified or checked,” Haywood Talcove of LexisNexis Risk Solutions told The Post.

“During the height of the pandemic, it was really hard to purchase [luxury] items like a Rolls Royce, or a high-end Mercedes because you had people walking in with cash from the PPP program to purchase those items for whatever the dealer was asking,” Talcove said.

Justice might finally be catching up with some of the fraudsters: A total of 803 arrests have taken place as of May 2023 for pandemic fraud, the SBA said.

Florida-based David Hines, 29, from Miami, used $3.9 million in PPP money to buy himself a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracan Evo sports car.

The gassed-up fraudster was caught when authorities seized the sports car and $3.4 million from bank accounts.

He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Records show he spent thousands at high-end shops, and a Miami hotel, and sent $30,000 of taxpayer cash to “mom.”

The gassed-up fraudster was caught when authorities seized the sports car and $3.4 million from bank accounts.

In Jacksonville, Fla., Kenneth Landers, pleaded guilty to fraud in February after using PPP funds totaling $910,000 to pay off his mortgage at home and at his business property.

But then he shelled out for an 18-carat gold Rolex watch and vintage Jaguar XK-E, or E-Type, Roadster.

He made a staggering $113,000 in cash withdrawals traced back to the PPP loans received.

Landers face a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

In similar expensive taste on taxpayer money, Georgia-based Darrell Thomas was sentenced to 15 years in prison for spending PPP funds on a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a Land Rover, and Acura NSX in addition to a gold Rolex.

Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to money laundering for heading a scheme to obtain 14 fraudulent loans amassing $11.1 million from the PPP.

In April, Manhattan restaurateur Besim Kukaj was revealed to have scammed $6.1 million in bogus loans to his restaurant group.

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