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‘Mr. Vacation’ Indicted for CARES Act Fraud

The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.
The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.
The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.

PROVIDENCE — A federal grand jury returned a 17-count indictment Friday charging a man, self-styled “Mr. Vacation,” with using stolen Social Security numbers and information to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funded unemployment insurance from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor  and for disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.

Warwick Police, Pawtucket Police, and Homeland Security agents cooperated in the investigation leading to the arrest of Courtney Hilaire, 28, on those charges, according to an announcement on the indictment from Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus.

The RI U.S. Attorney’s office alleges in the indictment that beginning in March 2020, Courtney Hilaire, 28, obtained from the Internet personal identifying information, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of numerous individuals, then accessed commercial public records data bases to obtain additional information about the identity of his victims.

In July 2020, using the stolen identities, Hilaire filed a least six applications for unemployment insurance payments from the State of Pennsylvania. On at least seven occasions beginning in August 2020, Hilaire withdrew fraudulently obtained CARES Act unemployment funds from bank accounts he accessed through ATMs in Rhode Island.

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 The indictment also alleges that Hilaire, using the moniker “Mr. Vacation,” solicited the assistance of another person to defraud the Small Business Administration by fraudulently seeking CARES Act Economic Injury Disaster Loans, a program providing economic relief to small businesses that have experienced a temporary loss of revenue during the pandemic.  The indictment states that Hilaire filed at least twenty-eight fraudulent applications with the Small Business Administration for Economic Injury Disaster Loans if he was not entitled to receive.

 Hilaire, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, is the latest individual charged in federal court in Providence with allegedly running schemes to defraud CARES Act programs. Earlier this month, the United States Attorney’s Office publicly detailed investigations and charges brought against fraudsters who collectively have targeted more than $31 million in CARES Act funding.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William F. Ferland.