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“Wolf Of Airbnb” Pleads Guilty In Connection With PPP And Real Estate Fraud Scheme

Konrad Bicher has pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to his fraudulent operation of real estate companies, including entering lease agreements for residential apartments in Manhattan using false and fraudulent pretenses, and making false statements to obtain loans guaranteed by the US government. The guilty plea was made before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave. Bicher rented apartment units in Manhattan from February 2019, and despite the requirement to make monthly rental payments, he failed to do so as per the lease agreements. Bicher also refused to vacate the Units after the expiration of the lease agreements and continued to generate income by renting the Units on a short-term basis, including posting them for rent on Airbnb and other online marketplaces. Bicher and his associates failed to make over $1,000,000 in payments, and Bicher caused the Units to be listed for short-term rent on Airbnb and other online marketplaces, resulting in at least $1,170,000 in rental income to him and his associates.

Bicher also obtained government-guaranteed loans through the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. He submitted at least four applications for PPP loans on behalf of at least three entities and obtained over $565,000 in loan proceeds by submitting fraudulent documents and false information.

Throughout the scheme, Bicher referred to himself as the “Wolf of Airbnb” and explained to media outlets that this nickname referred to the fact that he was “hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder” and had the “ferocity…of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious, and show no mercy when provoked.”

Bicher, 31, of Hialeah, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit $1,740,407.12 and to make restitution to victims in the amount of $1,985,251. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an outstanding investigation, and the case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Weinberg leading the prosecution.

sources: www.justice.gov, www.cnyonline.org/, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

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