Luzerne County Woman Charged With Covid-19 Related Fraud

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Angela Castillo, age 38, of Freeland, PA, was charged yesterday in a criminal Information with wire fraud. 

According to United States Attorney John C. Gurganus, the Information alleges that between June 2020 and September 2020, on behalf of other individuals and in exchange for payment, Castillo submitted to the United States Small Business Association (SBA) no fewer than forty Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications, all of which contained material misrepresentations.  Castillo’s conduct resulted in the SBA paying out approximately $163,000.00 in COVID-19 relief funds to individuals, none of whom actually owned a qualifying small business, and who therefore were not entitled to receive such funds under the EIDL loan program.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffery St John is prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

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Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

If convicted, the maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

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