WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Seven suspects were charged with stealing millions of dollars through the coronavirus financial assistance.
- The suspects used fake bank applications, counterfeit bank records, and federal tax forms to receive money through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
- The US Justice Department is still investigating other stealing allegations and has already charged over 57 people as of September.
Authorities revealed on Tuesday that seven people were charged with stealing millions of dollars using the COVID-19 financial assistance.
According to prosecutors, the suspects from Illinois and Texas have allegedly pocketed $16 million by providing at least 80 bogus applications through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The assailants used counterfeit bank records and federal tax forms.
A taxpayer-subsidized loan, the PPP loan is being given to small business owners to assist them in financing their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities said that upon receipt of money, the suspects would transfer a portion of it to fake employees from the companies that were given the loans.
Among those who got more than 1,100 of the checks were relatives of the suspects. The checks then will be withdrawn from a check-cashing company which is owned by one of them. The authorities claimed that the value of the cashed checks were over $3 million.
The suspects ━ Mayer Misak (40) of Cypress, Texas; Mauricio Navia (41) of Katy, Texas; Amir Aqeel (52) and Pardeep Basra (51) of Houston, Texas; Rifat Bajwa (51) of Richmond, Texas; and Richard Reuth (57) of Spring, Texas ━ were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Aqeel was also being charged with three counts of money laundering.
Meanwhile, Siddiq Azzemuddin (41) of Naperville, Illinois, who allegedly owns the cash checking firm, would face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
Other theft charges include a 47-year-old man in Minneapolis who was able to obtain a fake loan application amounting to $562,500 and a man in Miami, Florida who received $3.9 million through the PPP, which he used to purchase a $318,000 Lamborghini, local authorities claimed.
In September, the US Justice Department said that it has charged 57 people for attempting to steal PPP loans amounting to $175 million.
The Department Criminal Division’s Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt announced on Tuesday that federal officials are still in the quest of investigating fraud accusations regarding the PPP loans.
“The department and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who would seek to illegally exploit the ongoing national emergency for their own benefit,” he said in a statement.
The charges against the seven suspects were the latest suit made concerning the PPP fraud.