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COVID Frauds of the Week: PPP Loans for Fraudsters Who Like Nice Things

Posted  November 20, 2020

It was another busy week for the DOJ, with at least 13 individuals charged for their attempts to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program out of cash meant to help real businesses with real employees, rather than to fund fraudsters’ extravagant lifestyles and idiotic, selfish behavior.

Aditya Raj Sharma, 47, of Maple Grove, Minnesota—fake entrepreneur and apparent fan of swimming—was arrested and charged with wire fraud, for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program in the amount of $562,500. His loan application included a false creation date (February instead of May), 29 nonexistent employees, and included for himself the elevated title of CEO. He filed his application on behalf of Crosscode dba Kloudgaze, headquartered in Foster City, California. Upon receipt of the funds, he transferred $500,000 to a personal bank account, made a $5,000 down payment toward the installation of a $64,300 pool at his personal residence, and transferred approximately $14,000 to an account in India. Sentencing guidelines were not provided in the press release, but it’s probably a safe bet that he won’t be enjoying his new pool anytime soon. (MN USAO)

Nadine Consuelo Jackson, 32, of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making false statements related to her PPP applications. She sought $2.5 million in loans, and claimed to have 73 employees at her private investigation and security services firm, Extract LLC. Ms. Jackson identified herself as a “Investigator/Caregiver” on the applications, yet she is neither. She faces up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge and another 5 years for making false statements to a federal agency. (SDOH USAO)

Meanwhile, down in Texas, seven individuals were charged in a scheme involving more than 80 fraudulent loan applications, seeking approximately $16 million in PPP funds. The parties involved are Amir Aqeel, 52, and Pardeep Basra, 51, both of Houston; Rifat Bajwa, 51, of Richmond; Mayer Misak, 40, of Cypress; Mauricio Navia, 41, of Katy; and Richard Reuth, 57, of Spring. Possibly seeking warmer climes, Siddiq Azeemuddin of Naperville, Illinois, was swept into the fray and charged in Houston. In furtherance of their fraud, defendants submitted fake federal tax forms and fraudulent bank records, and also submitted applications on behalf of entities not owned by the defendants but who received kickbacks in exchange for the use of their legitimate business details. Before they were arrested, defendants managed to cash over 1,100 fake paychecks totaling more than $3 million in fraudulent loan proceeds through Azeemuddin’s check cashing company, Fascare International Inc. dba Almeda Discount Store. (DOJ, SDTX USAO)

And finally, out west in Encino, California, Richard Ayvazyan, 42, Marietta Terabelian, 36, Artur Ayvazyan, 40, and Tamara Dadyan, 39, were charged in a scheme to submit at least 35 fraudulent loan application seeking over $5.6 million in PPP funds. They’ve been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, four counts of bank fraud, and six counts of wire fraud. Richard Ayvazyan was charged separately with one count of aggravated identity theft. The fraudsters used the disaster relief loan funds as down payments on two residential properties worth $1 million and $3.25 million, respectively. It’s a shame they won’t be able to enjoy these properties, as I hear Aditya Raj Sharma knows a good pool guy. (DOJ)

We are months into the pandemic, yet fraudsters are still going strong, creating an opportunity for whistleblowers to flag to the government fraud that might otherwise go undetected. If you have information about frauds related to COVID-19, or any other fraud on government programs, contact us.

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Tagged in: Catch of the Week, COVID-19, Financial and Investment Fraud, Financial Institution Fraud,