Florida Man Admits Fraudulently Obtaining $2.4 Million in CARES Act Loans
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey
TRENTON, N.J. – A Florida man admitted fraudulently obtaining over $2.4 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) payments, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, announced today.
Mohamed A. Awad, 61, of Ocala, Florida, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2023, before Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with wire fraud and money laundering.
“The defendant’s abuse of a program designed for those in need is appalling,” Tammy Tomlins, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office, said. “Today’s plea demonstrates the significant consequence for fraudulently accessing government programs to steal from taxpayers. IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the integrity of relief programs.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Awad engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain over $2.4 million in PPP and EIDL loans through numerous misrepresentations to lenders. He submitted fraudulent loan applications that fabricated numbers of employees and misrepresented company information, to induce PPP and EIDL lenders to approve the loan applications that they otherwise would not have approved. Awad submitted falsified tax documents in support of PPP applications. According to IRS records, none of the purported tax documents that Awad submitted in support of the loan applications were ever in fact filed with the IRS. Awad thereafter transferred the loan proceeds among various bank accounts he controlled, withdrawing significant amounts in cash and transferring loan proceeds out of the country via wire transfers to banks based in Egypt.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain to the defendant or gross loss to the victim, whichever is greatest. The charge of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the laundering offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Christopher A. Nielsen, Philadelphia Division; special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Sharon MacDermott; special agents of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Tucker; special agents of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia Tarasca in New York; and special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas Mahoney, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The District of New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force is one of five strike forces established throughout the United States by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute COVID-19 fraud. The strike forces focus on large-scale, multi-state pandemic relief fraud perpetrated by criminal organizations and transnational actors. The strike forces are interagency law enforcement efforts, using prosecutor-led and data analyst-driven teams designed to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief funds.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine M. Romano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.
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 Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Updated November 21, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-344