On April 4, 2023, in the Eastern District of Michigan, Michael Currie was indicted for his role in unlawfully diverting Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC) funds.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, provided for an ERC that was designed to encourage eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll, despite experiencing an economic hardship related to COVID-19.
According to the court documents, beginning as early as September 2, 2021, and continuing to at least December 29, 2021, Currie unlawfully diverted ERC United States Treasury Checks from the United States Mail that had been disbursed to legitimate businesses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Currie then recruited others to open bank accounts to negotiate the checks. They then altered the “payee” line and forged the signature of a legitimate business owner to facilitate the check negotiation.
In one instance, Currie diverted an ERC check for $1,504,164.43. Currie then obtained an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS via the IRS Modernized Internet EIN portal and used the EIN to open a business bank account in the name of the company on the diverted ERC check, where Currie deposited the diverted ERC check.
At sentencing, for each count of wire fraud, Currie could receive a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment and fines. Currie could also receive a maximum 10 years in prison and fines for each count of money laundering.
Source: The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D. Mich., Crim., Compl., filed July 5, 2022; and E.D. Mich., Indict., filed April 4, 2023.