DC man steals over $2 million in COVID-19 funding

D.C. Department of Justice officials say that Elias Eldabbagh, 30, of D.C., has pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges after carrying out a scheme with the potential to gain $31 million of CARES Act funding. He successfully stole $2,385,000.

Eldabbagh is said to have stolen the money for a luxury car using a Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan scheme.

“During the two years since the CARES Act was passed, IRS-CI special agents have rooted out and continue to pursue these selfish criminals who thought they could get away with stealing from those who truly needed help,” IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Waldon said.

According to a statement, the man used a company — Alias Systems, LLC — to apply for 25 PPP loans totaling over $30 million from July 2020 through May 2021. He also submitted at least four EIDL applications that totaled $950,000.

Officials say he disguised himself using a stolen identity in order to submit most of the applications. He also used identities, tax returns and financial documents from a consulting company in D.C. and doctored those documents to match his company name.

The stolen money was used on rent, hotels, dog boarding, attorney fees, rideshares, electronics, and a Tesla Model 3. At least $288,000 was converted to cryptocurrency and other funds were wired across 13 bank and brokerage accounts. Some funds were used in over 2,000 transactions utilizing 43 different types of cryptocurrency.

In May of 2021, officials say that Eldabbagh tried to transfer funds seized by IRS-CI to other accounts. He has since agreed to forfeit the Tesla Model 3, the contents of 21 bank accounts and liquidate his cryptocurrency interests.

Eldabbagh is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 25.


Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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