June 10, 2022
Fraud Friday – ASLAN International Ministry Used PPP Proceeds for Walt Disney World Luxury Home
A group known as the “ASLAN International Ministry” received an $8.4 million loan in 2020 after applying for a $6.9 million PPP loan through First Home Bank. ASLAN was established in Ohio in 2005 by the Edwards family and later moved to Florida. The family’s original last name was Heringa, but it was changed after they were banned from Turkey.
In the application, the organization claimed that it had over 480 employees and an average monthly payroll of $2.76 million. The ministry also listed that they were located in Orlando despite IRS filings showing the organization being registered in Ohio. Additionally, the IRS Form 990, a tax return for nonprofit agencies, was signed by a person that suffered with dementia since 2017 and had no role in accounting for the ministry. ASLAN provided a cover letter that listed several banks, several of which confirmed to the government that the ministry did not have an account at the bank and the claimed balance was false.
The federal government seized more than $7.6 million in assets, and the government later seized an additional $868,000 from the group. The loan proceeds were deposited into a Wells Fargo account belonging to ASLAN. There were several transfers made to a second Wells Fargo account. Funds were once again moved in three different transfers to a Bank of America account. In another Bank of America account, $5.7 million was eventually seized, and $1.85 million was seized from a third Bank of America account.
Previously mentioned, over $850,000 was seized after it was wire transferred to a First American Trust bank account. This money was associated with a $3.7 million purchase of a residence in the Four Seasons Private Residence community at Walt Disney World Resort.
Due to the Edward family’s bank fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Secret Service attempted to find the family for an interview. The Edwards were located after receiving a speeding violation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Officers found computer bags, a document shredder, and garbage bags appearing to contain shredded documents. There were suitcases in the vehicle that held business records, financial documents, and a note that stated Homeland Security froze their accounts due to the PPP loan. On one of the computers, there were saved media articles about loan fraud investigations and a 49-page research manual about tracing money flows through financial institutions.
The United States obtained a civil judgment ordering the forfeiture of loan proceeds. A request was made to the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Section to return the forfeited funds back to the SBA.