Fake ministry buys mansion at Disney World after obtaining millions in PPP funds, feds say

National

Courtesy: WESH 2

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — Federal investigators have seized millions of dollars from what they’re calling a bogus ministry in Orlando.

Some of that money was set to buy a mansion near Disney World.

In the wake of the pandemic, the Secret Service is currently working hundreds of SBA loan fraud cases across the country and has seized over $345 million, with more than $50 million in Florida.

That money has been returned to states and the federal government.

That includes millions seized from Aslan International Ministry, which listed an Orlando address on North Orange Blossom Trail. The address, however, is vacant.

According to the Florida Division of Corporations, the foreign, not-for-profit corporation was set up in 2018 and is still active.

Federal records show it received Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, money in April to keep 486 workers employed.

However, federal complaint alleges it was a scam and a fake religious organization created to commit fraud.

The people behind Aslan are also the registered operators of “Church Of Florida, Inc” with a mailing address at Turkey Lake road’s post office, and a bogus physical location in a St. Petersburg office park.

The complaint claims the principals to the alleged scam, Dr. Evan Edwards, his son Joshua, daughter Joy, and wife Mary Jane used numerous bank accounts, held in different names to launder the PPP money.

Agents seized $7.6 million from Bank Of America accounts, and another $868,250 from First American Trust for a total of $8.4 million in fraudulently-obtained coronavirus relief money.

Investigators say the $868,250 was intended to be a down payment on a $3.5 million home in Disney World’s exclusive Golden Oak Neighborhood.

From the Secret Service: “The American people and particularly those small business owners who are suffering can rest assured that the Secret Service, the Small Business Administration and our Cyber Fraud Task Forces are proactively identifying and investigating any individual or entity that fraudulently obtained a SBA loan.”

The complaint says on Sept. 17, Edwards’ vehicle was stopped by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on I-75. All four people were inside.

Officials say the vehicle contained what appeared to be multiple laptops and tablets which were seized, along with a document shredder.

The complaint does not explain why the Edwards family was released.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to provide comment on this or any other cases related to the Aslan International Ministry related investigations.

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