SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota Sheriff Kurt Hoffman announced Monday the finding of an investigation of CARES Act Fraud.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation in November 2020 after government employees in Sarasota reached out about possible fraud.
As detectives poured through applications for this federal money, they identified around 200 fraudulent applications of which 114 were from SRQ Financial Solutions LLC.
Detectives executed a search warrant for the tax preparation business and seized more than 1,500 files. Detectives found many fictitious bank and tax documents along with suspicious profit and loss statements. Officials say SRQ Financial Solutions used state-of-the-art and very advanced document programs to forge documents and leave the people seeking help completely in the dark.
As detectives dug deeper, they found that over $319,000 was released as the result of applications from SRQ Financial Solutions. Sheriff Hoffman says some of the applications were legitimate but a majority were fraudulent. Detectives say that the investigation stopped an additional $4.15 million from being released based on pending applications.
SCSO says they have issued arrest warrants for eight people who were involved in this complex fraud scheme. The following are the names of those eight people.
- Peria Rhodes of Sarasota is considered to be the ringleader of the group. Is being charged with a single count of scheme to defraud more than $50,000. She has prior arrests for fraud, sale of cocaine, and possession of a controlled substance.
- Raelyn Tillman of Port Charlotte is being charged with a single count of scheme to defraud more than $50,000.
- Maria Bradley of Sarasota Is being charged with a single count of scheme to defraud more than $50,000. She has prior arrests of fraud, theft and violation of probation.
- Demetris “Nikki” Sheppard of Sarasota Is being charged with a single count of scheme to defraud more than $50,000.
- William Rhodes of Sarasota is being charged with theft and perjury. Rhodes has had several prior arrests including fleeing with violence, fleeing to elude, and aggravated stalking among others.
- Shaneice Rhodes of Sarasota is being charged with theft and perjury. Also has a prior arrest for fraud.
- Shaquaya Cooper of Bradenton is being charged with theft and perjury.
- Eddie Yarn of Bradenton is being charged with theft and perjury. Yarn has several prior arrests including battery on a law enforcement officer, fraud, fleeing, and more.
You can watch the full press conference below.
SCSO says if you or your business has had any dealing with SRQ Financial Solutions LLC, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Criminal Investigations Section at 941-861-4900
ABC7′s Daniela Hurtado was at the news conference and provided updates via Twitter.