Five more guilty for roles multi-million dollar COVID-19 relief fraud conspiracy
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON - Five Texas men have pleaded guilty to their participation in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and launder millions of dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that the guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to court documents, Muhammad Anis, 55, Nishant Patel, 41, Harjeet Singh, 49, all of Houston, and Arham Uddin, 27, and Ammas Uddin, 30, both of Richmond, engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the SBA and certain SBA-approved PPP lenders by submitting false and fraudulent PPP loan applications. All five also assisted in laundering the fraudulently obtained PPP loan funds by supplying 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 check cashing stores that other members of the conspiracy or others controlled.
As part of the scheme, Anis obtained a false and fraudulent PPP loan in the amount of approximately $483,333; Patel obtained a false and fraudulent PPP loan in the amount of approximately $474,993; Singh obtained two false and fraudulent PPP loans for a total of approximately $937,379; Arham Uddin obtained a false and fraudulent PPP loan in the amount of approximately $491,664; and Ammas Uddin obtained a false and fraudulent PPP loan in the amount of approximately $498,415.
Anis, Patel, Singh, Arham Uddin and Ammas Uddin each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4, 2024. At that time, each face up to five years in prison.
In addition to these five, 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.
The SBA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Federal Housing Finance Agency OIG, Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – OIG and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rodolfo Ramirez and Kristine Rollinson are prosecuting the cases along with Trial Attorneys Louis Manzo, Della Sentilles, Kate McCarthy and Spencer Ryan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
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 www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Updated October 2, 2023