Denish Sahadevan, a 31-year-old social media influencer, has pleaded guilty to several criminal charges related to money laundering using cryptocurrency. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) recently released a statement accusing Sahadevan of fraudulently obtaining over $1.2 million in government relief loans. The influencer, better known as Danny Devan on social media, admitted to committing wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
According to the prosecutors, the discovery of Sahadevan’s fraudulent activities was made after an extended search of his property in Potomac. The investigation revealed that over a period of three years, Sahadevan defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) and lenders of over $1.2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
The Crimes Committed
The DoJ alleges that Sahadevan began his criminal activities in March 2020 when he submitted EIDL and PPP applications for four Maryland businesses he controlled. He attached fraudulent documents such as tax forms and bank statements to the applications. This enabled him to obtain $146,000 in PPP benefits after previously applying for 71 such loans. He then applied for another set of eight EIDL loans totaling $283,900, deceiving his father into being a co-signer and forging his signature on the loan application.
Sahadevan deposited all the money he fraudulently obtained into bank accounts created for that purpose. He then laundered the money by investing in trading securities and cryptocurrencies to hide any trace. He also used some of the money to pay off his debts and cover some of his female friend’s expenses.
Furthermore, Sahadevan applied for a loan of $1,336,000 from a financial institution between December 16, 2021, and January 10, 2022. He failed to mention the EIDL loan of $283,900 he received from the US government in his application but was eventually granted the amount. He used the funds to purchase a property in Potomac, Maryland.
As part of his plea agreement, Sahadevan will forfeit the cash, the gold-plated Bitcoin, and pay restitution of at least $429,906. He is scheduled for sentencing on September 21, 2023, and could potentially face 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering, and a mandatory two years for aggravated identity theft.
Sahadevan was building a strong following on social media, with over 630,000 followers on TikTok at the height of his career, according to a Business Insider report. However, following recent events, this number could potentially plummet.
The case of Denish Sahadevan highlights the need for caution when dealing with cryptocurrencies. Digital currencies are often used for illegal activities due to their anonymity and ease of use. The case also highlights the need for stricter regulations and monitoring of government relief loans.