Police bodycam video exclusively obtained by NBC 6 shows officers catching up to a man detectives say took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and stole thousands of dollars from taxpayers in a clever scheme.
Police said Xavier Taylor, 32, stole the information of a South Florida small business owner and was able to convince the government to send him more than $80,000 in COVID-19 assistance loans.
“They pretend to own a company. They pretend to have employees. They provide tax returns with false information and unfortunately, you have unscrupulous individuals who use the weakness in the system," said Lauderhill Police Det. Richard Clarke.
Clarke said Taylor is just one person he’s tracking down who took advantage of the pandemic aid loans.
”There’s a saying that fraud is the drug of today,” Clarke said.
Lauderhill Police charged with Taylor impersonating a legitimate business, grand theft, and money laundering for allegedly setting up a scheme to hide the money the taxpayers loaned him.
Clarke started looking for Taylor when the legitimate owner of the business contacted them.
“He subsequently discovered that someone else had applied for SBA loan using his personal information and the application was for $81,200, which was approved and paid,” Clarke said. He added that Taylor had correspondence about the company diverted to him.
Clarke said Taylor moved quickly, using wire transfers and ATM withdrawals in an effort to hide the $81,000. Bank records show Taylor was busy taking out cash, making $1,000 withdrawals, one after the other. On a single day, he took out $7,000. Then the next day, he allegedly took out $5,800.
“That’s effectively money laundering because you are, in effect, cleaning dirty money,” Clarke said.
The Small Business Administration didn’t have specific numbers for Florida but estimates $84 billion in this type of fraud during the pandemic across the country.
“PPP/SBA loans are funded by the government to help those who are in need for their business. Effectively it's the taxpayers' money. So the whole community is a victim," Clarke said.
Federal agents are working with detectives like Clarke in South Florida to try and locate what they say are vast numbers who committed fraud this way.
Clarke was able to seize some of the $81,000. He said Taylor even called the bank before being arrested asking why he couldn’t get his money.
Taylor is in the Broward County Jail, and he’s entered a not guilty plea to the charges. His attorneys didn’t respond to our request for comment.