Sunday 28 June 2020

Virginia Couple Charged After Allegedly Receiving $1.4 Million In Fraudulent Coronavirus Relief Funds

Where there’s a will, there’s a way to defraud the U.S. government.
A couple from Ashburn, Virginia has been charged with collecting more than $1.4 million from a coronavirus relief program, WAVY reported. The married couple, 43-year-old Monica Jaworska and 42-year-old Tarik Jaafar, were arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport after the U.S. Department of Justice determined they had provided more than a dozen falsified loan applications to the Paycheck Protection Program. DOJ officials said the couple was arrested before they could flee to Poland.
More from WAVY:
Jaworska and Jaafar reportedly submitted a total 18 PPP loan applications to 12 financial institutions in the names of four business entities between April and May.
Investigators learned that four of those applications were approved by three financial institutions, which disbursed $1,438,500 in loans to the couple.
Some of the funds were frozen but prosecutors with the Eastern District of Virginia say Jaafar succeeded in withdrawing at least $30,000 in cash.
If convicted, Jaworska and Jaafar each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The Associated Press reported that an affidavit filed by the Small Business Administration investigator who uncovered the scheme said the couple faked multiple IRS forms to claim they had dozens of employees across multiple businesses. The SBA investigation apparently found evidence the businesses didn’t exist, the outlet reported.
In its press release regarding the arrest, the DOJ explained:
The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorneys appointed Coronavirus Fraud Coordinators to work with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to protect the public from scammers who are attempting to prey upon fears. The Department is also committed to preventing hoarding and price gouging for critical supplies during this crisis. To address this, Attorney General Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force.
The couple is accused of defrauding the PPP after congress passed – and President Donald Trump signed – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year to help Americans who were affected by COVID-19. The law “authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain permissible expenses, including payroll costs, rent, and utilities,” the DOJ explained.
More from the DOJ:
Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division for the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Hannibal “Mike” Ware, Inspector General of the Small Business Administration (SBA), made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Fitzpatrick and Kimberly Shartar are prosecuting the case.
Agents from the FBI’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Resident Agency, which included agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, assisted in the arrest.

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