Catawba Co. Man Faces COVID-19 Relief Fraud And Bank Roberry Charges

A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has returned a criminal indictment against Spenc’r Denard Rickerson, 35, of Claremont, N.C., charging him with wire fraud and bank robbery offenses, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The indictment was returned on March 15th, and was unsealed today following Rickerson’s arrest on Monday. 

U.S. Attorney King is joined in making today’s announcement by Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division.

According to allegations in the indictment, between June 30, 2020, and March 20, 2021, Rickerson used false information to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and multiple Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To obtain the PPP loan, the indictment alleges that Rickerson submitted a fraudulent application for a non-existent company that contained a number of falsehoods, including the purpose of the loan and the company’s payroll costs. The indictment also alleges that Rickerson submitted fraudulent applications for several loans under the EIDL program, in which he provided fake information about the number of company employees and gross revenues. As a result of the fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications, Rickerson allegedly received over $74,200 in fraudulent funds intended to assist businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the fraudulent loan scheme, according to allegations in the indictment, on March 18, 2021, Rickerson committed an armed robbery of a BB&T Bank located at 12 North Main Avenue, in Newton, N.C. Rickerson allegedly used the stolen funds from the fraudulent loan scheme and the bank robbery to pay bills and to buy cryptocurrency.

Rickerson remains in federal custody. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for the bank robbery offense is 25 years and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI in Charlotte investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lambert Guinn and Jenny G. Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are in charge of the prosecution.

To report suspected COVID-19 fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at (866) 720-5721 or file an online complaint at Complaints filed will be reviewed by the NCDF and referred to federal, state, local or international law enforcement or regulatory agencies for investigation. Members of the public in the Western District of North Carolina are also encouraged to call 704-344-6222 to reach their local Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator.

Author: Mike Jackson