A North Carolina man was charged after reportedly trying to steal over $6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for companies with names from "Game of Thrones."
Tristan Bishop Pan, 38, was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions on September 29 after submitting applications for companies named White Walker, Khaleesi, and The Night's Watch (all references to the popular HBO show), according to the Department of Justice.
"Pan made false statements about the companies' employees and payroll expenses," according to the DOJ. "The PPP loan applications were supported by fake documents, including falsified tax filings, according to the indictment."
He reportedly submitted 14 PPP loan applications over $6.1 million, and he received more than $1.7 million in benefits after being approved for two applications. The government seized some of the allegedly fraudulent loan benefits, according to the DOJ.
In April, the US government launched the PPP as a way to help small businesses financially amid the pandemic. These loans must be used for payroll costs, rent, and utilities.
The US Small Business Administration guarantees PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and they released the names of hundreds of thousands of small businesses that received funding from the PPP in July.
The CARES Act was built to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans who are suffering economically from the coronavirus pandemic. But the program has been under scrutiny over the possibility of fraud.
In July, some banks filed a record-high number of claims of suspected business-loan fraud, according to a report from The Project on Government Oversight.
The report analyzed previously unreported government data to the Treasury Department, stating that they are uncertain that there has been "minimal fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program" the report said.
Several other people have reportedly submitted fake applications.