2 Indian-origin men plead guilty to multimillion-dollar Covid fraud in US
New York, Oct 4 : Two Indian-origin men have pleaded guilty to their role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and launder millions of dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that the Small Business Administration guaranteed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Nishant Patel, 41, Harjeet Singh, 49, and three others engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the SBA and certain SBA-approved PPP lenders by submitting false and fraudulent PPP loan applications, a Department of Justice statement said on Monday.
All five defendants also assisted in laundering the fraudulently obtained PPP loan funds by supplying the co-conspirators with blank, endorsed checks, which were made payable to people posing as employees of the companies that received the PPP loan, but who were in fact not employees.
These fake paychecks were then cashed at the check cashing stores that other members of the conspiracy controlled, according to court documents.
As part of the scheme, Patel obtained a false and fraudulent PPP loan in the amount of nearly $474,993 and Singh obtained two false and fraudulent PPP loans for a total of nearly $937,379.
The total amount obtained by the other three amounted to more than $1.4 million in total.
All five of them pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and are scheduled to be sentenced on January 4, 2024.
They face a total maximum penalty of five years in prison.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In addition to these five defendants, one other individual was convicted at trial for his involvement in the scheme, and 15 other individuals have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the loan fraud scheme.