A so-called international ministry based in Florida, which didn’t appear to do anything ministry-related, allegedly obtained millions by defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), federal authorities say.
CNBC reports that U.S. Secret Service agents seized more than $7.5 million from accounts at Bank of America and another $868,000 from First American Trust from ASLAN International Ministry. The information came from a civil forfeiture complaint filed in U.S District Court in Orlando, Fla.
“The website [for ASLAN International Ministry] contained generic business information believed to have been taken from other websites and generated as their own information,” said the complaint, which was filed on Monday. “The links on that website that allowed for a user to give a donation or seek employment were inactive.”
The complaint asks a judge to sign off on the seized money being forfeited to the federal government “on the grounds that the funds are proceeds from bank fraud offenses.”
The case is part of a crackdown by federal authorities targeting organizations who may have defrauded the PPP program. The crackdown has so far resulted in 80 arrests connected to at least $240 million in fraud, according to CNBC. The Secret Service alone has some 700 pending PPP-related investigations.
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According to the Daily Mail, ASLAN International was formed in 2018, though there is no record of any ministry work having been done by the group. Though the company claimed to have 486 employees and non-profit status, the only people listed on the application for incorporation were Evan Edwards, listed as chairman and president, his son Josh as vice president, and daughter Joy as secretary. Edwards’s wife Mary Jane was also listed in court documents.
According to the complaint, ASLAN International, First Home Bank told the Edwards that ASLAN International was eligible for $8.4 million in PPP money. According to the complaint, some of the money was used as a deposit on a $3.7 million home in Orlando.
According to an investigation by the Trinity Foundation, more than $78.6 million in PPP funds went to televangelists, megachurches, and large media ministries.
Warren Cole Smith is president of MinistryWatch.com, a donor watchdog group. Prior to that, Smith was Vice President-Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
7 thoughts on “Fraudulent Florida “Ministry” Allegedly Defrauded PPP Program of Millions”
Thank you for reporting on this. Absolutely aggreges that a “ministry” would find ways to scam the government. As a senior finance executive in the non profit industry for over 20 years, I can tell any of your readers that when the see a non-profit board of directors comprised of close family members, that is a huge red flag and you should seriously reconsider donating to such an organization. This information is readily available in the required annual 990 filings.
Yes! I encourage donors to always check 990s. And if the ministry doesn’t file a 990, don’t give. And if the board is comprised of family members, don’t give. Just as a note, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries fails on both counts, as does the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and several other prominent evangelical ministries. (https://julieroys.com/are-focus-on-the-family-bgea-rzim-churches-and-should-they-be-exempt-from-reporting-salaries-of-executives/)
That was an intriguing intro to an article. Where’s the rest? Who are these people? How were the clever enough to aggregate nearly 10% of total PPP outlay to ministry thus far? Do they have a criminal history? What tipped off the feds? What does ASLAN specialize in? How did they get 501C approval so quickly? What website did they ‘piggy-back’ claiming content as their own? 486 employees? In 2 yrs? For ministry?? Who, what, where, why, how….
Shameful. So many small businesses have been permanently shuttered because they couldn’t get small PPP loans. Hopefully these people will serve jail time for theft.
I would like to know what religion if any they are affiliated with, especially If they are connected to Scientology.
Too weird and too creepy. Most of these “ministries” are scams but it looks like ASLAN took it to a whole other level. What did they even claim to do?
Finally there is a ministry reporting these misconducts! I believe we are dealing with a systemic problem in the evangelical world. May God have mercy on us.
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