US man who faked own death over Covid relief scam sentenced

A Massachusetts man who tried to scam a Covid-19 business aid scheme and faked his own death to evade authorities has been sentenced to 56 months in prison.

David Staveley falsely claimed to co-own four large businesses in need of nearly $544,000 (£399,000) in support from a federal government programme.

After being charged last year, Staveley staged a suicide and fled using false identities and stolen licence plates.

He is the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking the loans.

Prosecutors condemned his actions in their sentencing memo: "He saw the economic emergency created by the pandemic simply as an opportunity to make himself rich by taking for himself what was meant for those in need."

Enacted between March 2020 and May 2021, the US Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allowed small businesses hit hard by the pandemic to apply for low-interest private loans to cover payroll and other costs.