VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – Federal prosecutors allege that a Virginia Beach woman and man set up a scheme to defraud customers for several years and then recently filed for unemployment benefits. Federal authorities intervened and made arrests.
They said this ran from August 2012 to February 2018 and that Ronald Smith and Terri Miller owned the Business Development Specialist Group (BDG).
Officials said it was an internet-based company with offices in Virginia Beach. The two are said to be paid to help people prepare loan packages such as Small Business Administration (SBA) applications, financial statements and business plans, according to the records.
Federal authorities allege that they falsely claimed to be a large multi-state corporation, headquartered at the Trump Building in New York City with additional offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, and that they were affiliated with the SBA.
They reportedly said they had relationships with banks across the country that enabled them to facilitate the loan approval process with SBA lenders in a client’s area using a “Lender Linker” made up of the lenders. The country’s most favorite SBAs.
The documents indicate that BDG had a program that included a “powerful online grants writer interface service” that was directly connected to the federal government and “handled everything from A to Z in research, writing, submission and delivery. ‘getting grants’ and they offered a money back guarantee.
They also claimed to have won the 2016 Best of Manhattan Business Award for Business Development Software and Services.
The documents state: “Due to the aforementioned scheme and artifice, the defendants solicited numerous clients for BDG and received from each of them fees ranging from approximately $ 249.00 to $ 996.00, often paid in installments. Most of the clients did not receive the SBA guaranteed loans as expected.
The documents indicate that Miller and Smith had several fraudulent methods to deny refunds to BDG customers. “Some customers seeking reimbursement were simply ignored for months and many simply gave up. Other customers requesting refunds have been threatened with legal action, ”the documents say.
Federal prosecutors said they even went so far as to send a cease-and-desist email to Adolph P. Krenzler, a senior investigator, Department of Criminal Investigations with the company, saying that compliance violated the federal law, but there was no Krenzler or Criminal Investigation Department. inside the company and no violation of federal law.
There were nine different unidentified victims listed in the indictment who allegedly lost thousands of dollars.
In April of this year, federal officials allege that Miller and Smith both filed for unemployment benefits separately with the Virginia Employment Commission, which included an additional $ 600.00 per week in federal unemployment benefits in the event of pandemic authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES”).
The documents indicate that as a result of their misrepresentation, they each received approximately $ 9,600.00 in federal unemployment compensation for a pandemic to which they were not entitled.
Smith was arrested on nine counts of wire fraud, three counts of participating in money transactions involving property derived from crime and one count of emergency benefit fraud.
Miller has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud, three counts of participating in monetary transactions involving property derived from crime, and one count of fraud in connection with emergency benefits.
Smith is being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail and will appear in court Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
Miller is on bail and has an arraignment on August 27 at 2:30 p.m.