BOSTON – Two former massage salon owners have been charged with filing and obtaining fraudulent pandemic-related loans under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act for their respective illicit businesses where workers engage in commercial sex with clients.
Chynna Savath, 56, of Woonsocket, RI, has been charged with two counts of wire fraud. Savath is the former owner of Thai Body Work, a massage parlor in Franklin.
According to prosecution documents, in June 2020, Savath submitted fraudulent requests to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Loans Program. in the event of an economic disaster (EIDL) under the CARES Act. In the claims, Savath falsely certified that the Claimant did not engage in any illegal activity, despite being aware that her Thai Body Work employees engaged in prostitution with clients and received a portion of the fees paid by each client. In total, Savath obtained $ 29,646 in fraudulent payments from the EIDL and PPP loan programs.
Aticha Jittaphol, 32, of Brighton, has been separately charged with two counts of misrepresenting in federal loan applications. Jittaphol is the former owner of Mantra Dhevi Spa in Brighton.
According to prosecution documents, in March and April 2020, Jittaphol submitted fraudulent EIDL and PPP loan applications in which she falsely stated that the applicant was not engaged in any illegal activity. However, her employees at Mantra Dhevi Spa engaged in prostitution from which she received part of the fees paid by each client. Jittaphol also actively promoted prostitution by recruiting employees and attracting new clients. In total, Jittaphol obtained $ 7,066 in fraudulent payments from the EIDL and PPP loan programs.
The wire fraud charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $ 250,000. The misrepresentation charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $ 250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting US Attorney Mendell; Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent for Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Joshua McCallister, Acting Inspector for the United States Postal Inspection Service; and Acting Boston Police Commissioner Gregory Long made the announcement. Special assistance was provided by the Cambridge, Boston, Franklin and Lexington Police Departments. U.S. Deputy Prosecutor Elysa Wan of Mendell’s Criminal Division and Suffolk County Deputy Prosecutors Alyssa Tochka and Luke Goldworm, who have been appointed Special Assistant U.S. Prosecutors, are continuing these cases.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Details in court documents are allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.