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Nurse is accused of ripping off $474,000 in a COVID relief-funds scam

By DAVID J. NEAL | The Miami Herald | Published: January 11, 2021

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MIAMI (Tribune News Service) — A Miami-Dade registered nurse was arrested Friday after federal prosecutors charged him with fraud in obtaining COVID-19 relief loans, then using them to pay for his Mercedes-Benz SUV and child support, among other expenses.

And, after getting $474,900 in loans, prosecutors say Giraldo Caraballo didn't pay his employees at Professional Skills. He couldn't — Professional Skills has no employees and no payroll expenses, despite what he claimed in his applications.

Caraballo was charged Wednesday with bank fraud, false statement to a lending institution and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. The online court docket said he invoked his right to remain silent on Monday.

Online records say Caraballo, licensed in Florida as a registered nurse since 2009, registered Professional Skills with the state on April 18, 2019. He's the only listed registered agent and the only officer. The criminal complaint and Miami-Dade property records say the Southwest 200th Terrace address he used for Professional Skills is his home address.

The criminal complaint says when Caraballo opened a bank account in Professional Skills' name on May 6, 2019, he claimed the company had two employees and $70,000 gross annual sales. State records say the co-owner of Caraballo's home, Lisney Caraballo Morejon, has been a licensed registered nurse since 2015.

On June 17 of last year, three months after the United States began shutting down to try to stop the coronavirus spread, Caraballo's application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) claimed Professional Skills had $180,000 gross revenue from Feb. 1, 2019, through Jan. 31, 2020, and four employees as of the latter date.

Six days later, the Small Business Administration put $50,900 into Professional Skills' account and Caraballo applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. For this, the complaint says, he claimed Professional Skills grossed $168,000 a month and had 28 employees, so needed $420,000 for payroll.

The complaint says Caraballo received that $420,000 as well as, a week later, another $4,000 on the EIDL loan.

The complaint says during the time in question, Professional Skills had no employees. There were no payments of employment taxes to the state of Florida. There were no payroll checks or payment to payroll service providers from the Professional Skills account.

"Rather, the account records show," the complaint said, "Caraballo used the company income to pay off personal credit card bills, make mortgage payments, make car lease payments, make child support payments and, among other transactions, direct proceeds and other entities that Caraballo controlled" — such as paying off a $7,023 personal Visa bill on June 24 and a $929.39 car lease bill on a 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 on June 25.

The complaint notes Caraballo opened a new personal bank account on June 26, the day after getting the PPP loan, and transferred $239,000 from the Professional Skills account.

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