Florida Pastor Arrested in Alleged $8 Million COVID Relief Scam After Trying to Buy Luxury Disney World Home
A Florida pastor is in hot water after allegedly obtaining $8 million in fraudulent federal COVID-19 relief funds and trying to use some of the money to buy a luxury on Walt Disney World property.
Pastor Evan Edwards, 64, and his son, Josh Edwards, 30, were taken into police custody Wednesday (Dec. 14), nearly two years after federal prosecutors first identified the scam in court papers dated December 2020.
Part of the fraudulent funds the family allegedly received were used in an attempt to purchase a luxury $3.7 million, 4,700-square-foot home located in the exclusive Golden Oak resident community in Disney World.
However, authorities seized the $868,000 set aside for the down payment before the deal ever went through.
According to NBC News, the case dates back to April 2020 when Josh applied for a $6 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for various expenses allegedly related to his family's church under the ASLAN International Ministry.
Josh applied for the loan to supposedly help cover payroll, rent and utilities amid the height of the pandemic.
In his application for the loan, Josh claimed the church had a total of 486 employees and a monthly payroll of $2.7 million.
The church was officially granted a $8.4 million PPP loan.
However, when federal investigators showed up at the ministry's supposed office in Orlando, Fla., the doors were locked. Neighboring businesses told investigator that no one had ever been spotted inside the office.
Additionally, investigators found that the donation hyperlinks and related text located on the church's website were either inactive or had been copied directly from other religious sites.
Both Evan and Josh are currently facing a total of six charges including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and visa fraud.