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Crypto influencer on TikTok pleads guilty to $1.2 million fraud

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court session blurry figures sitting in chairs

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A former TikTok crypto influencer has been forced to forfeit a gold physical bitcoin and more than $17,000 in cash after pleading guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering charges.

TikTok star splurged stolen cash on crypto

Denish Sahadevan, also known as Danny Devan on social media, reportedly ran an elaborate scheme through which he defrauded lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA) of over $1.2 million in funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland made the revelations in a May 31 statement, which claimed Sahadevan laundered the proceeds of his fraudulent activities by engaging in various monetary transactions, including buying and trading securities and cryptocurrency.

More than 26,000 people followed the 31-year-old social media influencer on TikTok. His bio states that he “invests in crypto stocks,” and some of his videos giving crypto investment advice have received over 300,000 views.

During the investigation, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Sahadevan’s Potomac house, where they uncovered a gold physical bitcoin of unknown value, several electronic devices, a container holding approximately 18 driver’s licenses belonging to other individuals, and roughly $17,043 in cash.

Sahadevan will forfeit the money and bitcoin seized during the search as part of his plea agreement, as both are considered proceeds of his fraudulent scheme. He will also be required to make restitution and pay a forfeiture judgment of nearly $430,000.

Influencer faces 20 years in prison

Sahadevan reportedly initiated his fraudulent activities around March 2020. He submitted false EIDL and PPP loan applications for four Maryland entities under his control, fabricating documents like tax forms and bank statements to support these applications.

The Rockville resident also admitted to using his home as the hub for producing counterfeit documents and electronically applying for EIDL and PPP loans.

His applications for approximately 71 PPP loans, totaling nearly $941,794.75, successfully netted roughly $146,000 in PPP benefits. Additionally, Sahadevan secured eight EIDLs amounting to $283,900.

The confessed fraudster now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud, up to 10 years for money laundering, and a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft, to be served consecutively to any other imposed sentence.

U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled Sahadevan’s sentencing for Sept. 21.

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