HomeFlorida NewsFederal jury convicts Tampa business owner of COVID-19 loan fraud

Federal jury convicts Tampa business owner of COVID-19 loan fraud


Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced that a federal jury has found Barrett Purvis, 54, of Tampa, guilty of wire fraud and money laundering. He could face up to 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud offense and a maximum of 10 years for money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for August 12, 2024. Purvis was indicted on March 30, 2023.

Misuse of Disaster Loan Funds

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Purvis applied for a $500,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the Small Business Administration (SBA) during the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2021.

Although he applied for the loan on behalf of a legitimate small business he owned, Purvis never intended to use the loan for working capital as required.

Instead, he spent half of the funds to pay off gambling debt and the remainder on other personal expenses, including debts on his girlfriend’s three credit cards. Within two weeks of receiving the loan, nearly all the money had been used for non-business purposes.

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Investigation and Prosecution

The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation led the inquiry into Purvis’s fraudulent activities. Assistant United States Attorney Candace Garcia Rich prosecuted the case.

Task Force Combats COVID-19 Fraud

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to coordinate resources and combat pandemic-related fraud. This initiative involves collaboration between government agencies and aims to identify and prosecute criminal actors exploiting relief programs.

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By combining existing enforcement mechanisms and improving the sharing of information, the task force enhances efforts to investigate and prevent fraud across the United States.

Purvis’s conviction underscores the task force’s commitment to holding those accountable who abuse relief programs intended to help struggling businesses during the pandemic.

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