Five men from Texas have pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain and launder millions of dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The PPP loans were intended to assist small businesses in retaining their employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. The defendants, Muhammad Anis, Nishant Patel, Harjeet Singh, Arham Uddin, and Ammas Uddin, submitted false and fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SBA-approved PPP lenders.
Court documents reveal that Anis obtained a fraudulent PPP loan of approximately $483,333, Patel obtained a loan of roughly $474,993, Singh obtained two loans totaling around $937,379, Arham Uddin obtained a loan worth approximately $491,664, and Ammas Uddin obtained a loan of nearly $498,415. The defendants also assisted in laundering the fraudulently obtained funds by providing co-conspirators with blank, endorsed checks made payable to individuals posing as employees. These fake paychecks were then cashed at check-cashing stores controlled by other members of the conspiracy.
Earlier this year, Abdul Fatani was convicted for his involvement in the same scheme. Fatani conspired with others to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications, seeking over $35 million through more than 80 loans. He distributed over $500,000 in fraudulent loan proceeds to his co-conspirators and himself, using bogus payroll checks. Fatani was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
Sentencing for Anis, Patel, Singh, Arham Uddin, and Ammas Uddin is scheduled for January 4, 2024. Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Fifteen other individuals have also pleaded guilty to their involvement in the loan fraud scheme.
Since the implementation of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases related to PPP loan fraud. Over $78 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as various real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds, have been seized.
The government encourages individuals with information about attempted Covid-19 fraud to report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline or by using the NCDF Web Complaint Form.