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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Texas Wedding Planner Sentenced in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

A Texas man was sentenced today in the Eastern District of Texas to 31 months in prison and three years of supervised release for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $3.3 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to court documents, Fahad Shah, 45, of Murphy, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud, sought approximately $3.3 million in PPP funds by claiming that his family’s business, WBF Weddings by Farah Inc. (WBF), employed more than 100 individuals and paid millions of dollars in compensation to those employees. In actuality, WBF had no employees aside from Shah and his wife. Based on Shah’s false representations and forged documents, an SBA-approved lender provided over $1.5 million in PPP loan funds to Shah. Shah then used the funds for personal gain contrary to program’s terms, paying off his home mortgage and purchasing two Teslas and a Mercedes, among other items.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei for the Eastern District of Texas; Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the U.S. Small Business Administration – Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Catherine Huber of the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Inspector General Jay N. Lerner of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Christopher J. Altemus Jr. of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Dallas Field Office; and Inspector General J. Russell George of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) made the announcement.

The SBA-OIG, FHFA-OIG, FDIC-OIG, IRS-CI, and TIGTA investigated the case.

Trial Attorney Della Sentilles and Louis Manzo of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Coan and Bob Wells of the Eastern District of Texas prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Disaster Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 16, 2021