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Press Release

Sixth Defendant in $3 Million COVID-19 Fraud Ring Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Falls Church man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and to make false statements on loan applications in connection with COVID-relief loans.

According to court documents, Fouzi Darakhshan, 36, conspired with his brothers and their friends to submit falsified loan applications in order to obtain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through banks and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration. Altogether, the defendants wrongfully obtained over $3 million in loan proceeds. They submitted at least 63 loan applications, of which 17 were approved.

The defendants used multiple shell entities they controlled to apply for PPPs and EIDLs and falsified IRS tax forms submitted to lenders. They engaged in a group WhatsApp chat devoted to executing the fraud scheme, openly discussing falsifying documents and inflating the numbers of employees, company revenues, and payroll figures in order to induce lenders to make the loans.

Foad Darakhshan, 46, of McLean; Haleh Farshi, 44, of Ashburn; Farough Darakhshan, 39, of Great Falls; Shoughi Darakhshan, 30, of McLean; and Marcus Gharib, 29, of Tysons all previously pleaded guilty for their involvement in the conspiracy.

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced beginning in July and concluding in September. They face up to 5 years in prison, full restitution, and forfeiture. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge for the Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted today’s plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-22.

Updated May 31, 2022

Financial Fraud