A Winchester man has been convicted of fraudulently soliciting more than $13 million in forgivable loans for small businesses battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elijah Majak Buoi, 40, was arrested and charged with four counts of wire fraud and one count of misrepresentation to a financial institution in June 2020 and indicted by a federal jury on the charges in July 2020.
Wire fraud charges can result in up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines, and misrepresentation to a financial institution charges carry up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV set his sentence for June 16.
Buoi, who lives in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States with an average household income of more than $200,000 in 2016 according to a Bloomberg rankingsubmitted six fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, claims on behalf of his company, Sosuda Tech LLC, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
Court documents also show that he applied for and claimed state unemployment benefits at the same time as he filed bogus loan applications as the owner of the business. Prosecutors say they raised the issue to “complete the crime story by providing immediate context” because the state’s unemployment fraud allegations are not being tried in federal proceedings.
The PPP was created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020, or CARES. The law authorized up to $349 billion in loans to help small businesses continue to pay their employees and survive during the economic downturn of the pandemic.
To substantiate at least one of his loan applications, he forged an IRS form to claim that Sosuda Tech paid $34.8 million to employees in 2019, according to the indictment.
This would be a remarkable feat for the company’s expansion, as the corporate registry maintained by the Massachusetts Secretary of State shows that the company – originally named South Sudanese American Technologies, LLC – was only incorporated in May 2019.
It is not known if the company is still in operation. Its website is still online, although incomplete, and the Twitter account linked to the website has been suspended. The Facebook page has only posted inspirational meme photos since January 17, although there is a video published on November 29 intended to raise funds for agricultural equipment for an organization in South Sudan.
The host of this video is “Elijah Jacob”, who appears to be a pseudonym for Buoi, like the LinkedIn page under this name lists its owner as the founder and CEO of Massachusetts-based Sosuda Tech. There is only one company registered in Massachusetts with this name, and that is the company registered and owned by Buoi.