The U.S. Department of Justice announced that Christopher Parris was sentenced to over 20 years (244 months) in prison for his involvement in a COVID-19 scheme and a multi-year Ponzi scheme.
COVID-19 Fraud Scheme.
Mr. Parris’ COVID-19 scheme was unlike the frequently reported PPP fraud schemes that involve fraudulent applications for PPP funds. Instead, Mr. Parris pled guilty to defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and several companies via fraudulent proposals for personal protection equipment. According to the government, between February and April 2020, Mr. Parris offered to sell scarce PPE, including 3M branded N95 masks. In his proposals, Mr. Parris misrepresented access to and the ability to timely deliver PPE. According to the government, he falsely represented that he was able to obtain 3M masks directly from authorized sources, but in reality, he had no readily available access or source of supply. In one referenced example, Mr. Parris offered to sell the VA 125 million 3M N95 masks but tried to obtain over $3 million in advance from the VA, despite knowing he had no access to the promised masks. The government noted that Mr. Parris sought orders over $65 million for non-existent PPE equipment and obtained $6.3 million in proceeds from the scheme.
Ponzi Fraud Scheme.
Between January 2011 and June 2018, Mr. Parris conspired with several individuals to run an investment fraud scheme. In 2007, Mr. Parris and a co-conspirator formed a business and raised millions from investors by soliciting investments for another company called City Capital Corporation. Later, the owner of City Capital Corporation informed Mr. Parris that the investors’ money had been lost. Mr. Parris and his co-conspirator acquired the assets and debts of City Capital Corporation. The owner of City Capital Corporation was later prosecuted for operating a Ponzi scheme, according to the government.
After acquiring the assets and debts of City Capital Corporation, Mr. Parris and his co-conspirators did not disclose the loss of money to the investors. The pair continued to solicit investments and used some of the money to buy several businesses of investment advisors and brokers to obtain access to fresh investors. Some of the money obtained in the Ponzi scheme was used to pay promised returns to investors and some was used to support the lavish lifestyle of the conspirators. Some funds were also used for expenses associated with operating the scheme. According to the government, between 2012 and June 2018, Mr. Parris and his co-conspirator obtained at least $115 million from investors, returned about $44 million as part of the scheme, and continued to owe about $70 million to investors. Mr. Parris was sentenced to serve 210 months in prison for the Ponzi scheme.
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