Massachusetts men used stolen identities to obtain small business loans, used money to buy iPhones, officials allege

Two Massachusetts men have been accused of using stolen identities to obtain more than $452,204 in disaster loans from the Small Business Administration and using the dollars to purchase iPhones for re-sale, federal officials said Tuesday.

Darwyn Joseph, 24 of Lawrence, and Ramon Joseph Cruz, 24 of Methuen, were arrested Monday and have each been charged in federal court in Boston with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

After initial appearances in court, the two have been detained pending detention hearings, which are scheduled for Wednesday.

Joseph and Cruz used stolen identity information of U.S. citizens to open fraudulent bank accounts, which were linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the SBA funds, Lelling’s office said in a statement.

The suspects through the mail received debit cards associated with fraudulent bank accounts into which SBA funds were deposited, Lelling’s office alleged, and then laundered that money by using the dollars to purchase large numbers of iPhones for re-sale.

More than $452,204 in SBA funds were obtained, according to the statement, and about $250,000 of that money was allegedly used to purchase iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Some funds were also wired to the Dominican Republic, the statement said.