Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return of an indictment charging Christopher Leo Daragjati (33, Middleburg) with seven counts of wire fraud, ten counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of theft of government property over $1,000, and two counts of false representation of a Social Security number (SSN). If convicted, Daragjati faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each wire fraud count, a consecutive minimum mandatory penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft count, up to 5 years on each false SSN representation count, up to 10 years in prison on the charge of theft of government property, and payment of restitution to the victims he defrauded. Daragjati appeared in federal court yesterday. The court ordered him temporarily detained and set a detention hearing for April 3, 2023. No trial date has been set.
According to the indictment, Daragjati obtained the personal identifiable information (PII), including the SSNs of multiple victims. Using the victims’ PII, Daragjati went to the Lake County Tax Collector and the Orange County Tax Collector and obtained Florida Identification cards in the identity of two victims. Using the two Florida Identification cards, he then applied for three different Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the identity of the two victims. When applying for the three PPP loans Daragjati allegedly submitted numerous fraudulent tax related documents and repeatedly made false statements when completing the Small Business Administration loan application for each of the loans. In reliance on this false information, lenders approved the loan applications and Daragjati received approximately $150,000 in PPP loan proceeds for the three approved loans. As part of the scheme, he also set up bank accounts in the identities of the victims in order to receive the PPP loan proceeds.
In another fraud scheme Daragjati opened four commercial lines of credit with Sunbelt Rentals, using the PII of four victims. After being approved for the lines of commercial credit under the victims’ identities, he rented thousands of dollars of equipment. Rather than return the rented equipment, Daragjati pawned some of the items using the identities of various victims or otherwise disposed of the stolen equipment. In at least one incident, this resulted in a felony arrest warrant being issued and entered into the National Crime Information Center for a victim of identity theft.
In another scheme, in January 2022, Daragjati filed a false tax return, using the identity of a victim. In reliance on the false documents and use of the stolen identity by Daragjati, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approved a tax refund in which he received a tax refund of more than $1,000 in under the assumed victim’s identity. Daragjati arranged to have the fraudulently obtained tax refund deposited directly into a bank account that was in the name of the victim but controlled by Daragjati.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol – Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Secret Service - Jacksonville Field Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.