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Austin man arrested for allegedly defrauding small business loan program amid COVID-19 pandemic

Michael McQuarn allegedly submitted fraudulent applications to secure loans and buy himself a boat and a Rolls Royce.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of more than $2 million.

Federal authorities said Michael George McQuarn, 51, of Austin, submitted fraudulent applications in April 2020 for two fictitious companies he created – Vantastic Voyages, LLC and Happy Days Movers, LLC – to secure SBA-backed PPP loans.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, McQuarn claimed the funds were for legitimate business purposes, when in fact the money was used for his own personal use, including purchasing a 26-foot Pavati Wake Boat and a Rolls Royce. It is alleged McQuarn fraudulently received an excess of $2 million in PPP funds.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help Americans struggling with financial hardship during the pandemic. Our office will be aggressive in targeting anyone who defrauds this critical program,” said U.S. Attorney John F. Bash.

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If convicted, McQuarn faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and up to five years for making false statements to the SBA.

The investigation is being conducted by the SBA OIG, IRS-CI, FDIC-OIG, TIGTA and the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Devlin, Michael Galdo and Robert Almonte are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

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This year, the U.S. Congress authorized more than $600 billion in emergency financial assistance for those suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PPP funds were made available to small businesses for job retention and other expenses such as rent and utilities.

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