A former TikTok influencer and crypto investor has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering, after using crypto to launder thousands in illegally obtained COVID-19 relief loans. He later gave away some of the illicit profits to his girlfriend.
According to the US Attorney’s Office of Maryland, 31-year-old Denish Sahadevan — known as Danny Devan on TikTok — pleaded guilty in a federal court on Wednesday.
The social media personality from Rockville, Maryland was known for offering investment advice on digital currencies and stocks via social media. Sahadevan also featured in a Business Insider article in which he shared his predictions and strategies for trading crypto in 2022.
However, two years earlier, he was creating fake tax forms and bank statements and applying for COVID-19 relief loans for his own financial gain.
Sahadevan bought a mansion and crypto
As per his plea agreement, Sahadevan used fake documents to apply for both Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) on behalf of four entities in Maryland.
To lend credibility to one of his fraudulent tax forms, the crypto influencer used the details of a tax preparer without their knowledge or consent. He then applied for roughly 71 PPP loans totaling over $941,000 and successfully received $146,000 in PPP benefits.
Sahadevan also received eight EIDLs, totaling nearly $284,000, by convincing his father to co-sign some of the loans while also forging his signature for others.
Once the money was secured, he laundered the funds through securities trading and cryptocurrency. He was also settling personal debts and making payments to his girlfriend with the loan money.
He later applied for a $1.3 million loan to purchase a six-bed, six-bathroom mansion in Potomac, Maryland. This loan was also fraudulent due to Sahadevan’s failure to disclose the $283,900 he owed the government for his prior EIDL benefits.
Police searched his home on Feb 24, 2023. They found 18 driver’s licenses belonging to other people and $17,000 of cash in his closet, alongside what authorities described as a “gold-encased bitcoin.”
Sahadevan will forfeit the cash and bitcoin that are direct proceeds of his fraudulent COVID loans and will pay a restitution fee of roughly $430,000.
“Sahadevan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud; a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for money laundering; and a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft,” the press release reads.
Edit 16:00 UTC, Jun 1: Updated piece to clarify that Sahadevan applied for $1.2 million worth of loans but was only granted just over $400,000.