Scammer Claiming to Be ‘Fast & Furious’ Actor Vin Diesel Stole COVID Relief Funds Deposited in Massachusetts Woman’s Bank Account, Federal Government Says
A Massachusetts woman who authorities said fell prey to a con artist claiming to be “Fast & Furious” actor Vin Diesel had stolen COVID relief funds deposited in her bank account.
Details of what happened are contained in a federal case where the government is seeking to seize a Bank of America check for $ 16,893.86.
In an affidavit detailing the reasons the government seized the money, Derek MacDonald, a U.S. Secret Service special agent, said authorities believed the money was part of a fraudulent COVID relief scam.
On July 12, a woman and her daughter attended the Barnstable Police Department to report a scam. The mother explained that her daughter was mentally disabled and discovered that the PPP loan funds had been deposited into her Bank of America account.
The girl, however, never applied for the loan.
The funds, which amounted to $ 16,893.86, were placed in a check. The mother and daughter brought the check to the police station and gave it to investigators.
MacDonald and Barnstable Police Detective Steven Barrette, who is part of the USSS New England Cyber Fraud Task Force, interviewed the mother and daughter in mid-July.
The girl told investigators “that she was communicating with a person she met online who she said was actor Vin Diesel,” according to the records.
The scammer and the woman spoke through Google Hangouts and email.
Eventually, the scammer asked the woman to provide her banking information and a photo of her driver’s license. The woman believed she was helping a charity run by the famous actor.
The woman then noticed that nearly $ 17,000 had appeared in her bank account one day. The woman told her mother the deposit was strange and that she had never applied for a PPP loan, the secret agent wrote.
At one point, the woman also received a voicemail message from someone posing as a manager asking for money.
Investigators were allowed to examine online communications between the woman and the scammer and believed she had been cheated on in what is commonly referred to as a romance scam.
Federal investigators found that the woman’s information was used to apply for a P3 loan for a restaurant business and the money was intended to be used for salary costs. Investigators, according to records, traced the information to Texas.
Authorities now want a judge to authorize the federal government to recover the money. The affidavit does not describe any details about who they believe committed the fraud while the investigation is ongoing.