Tuesday, February 20, 2024

In Twist On PPP, Other COVID-19 Relief Fraud, Recordings Show Cook County Jail Detainees Claimed to Reap Tens of Thousands of Dollars; Three Defendants Convicted At Trial In $7.9 Million COVID-19 Fraud Scheme, and other C-Virus related stories

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo
In twist on PPP, other COVID-19 relief fraud, recordings show Cook County Jail detainees claimed to reap tens of thousands of dollars
Recorded conversations show dozens of Cook County Jail inmates schemed to loot the federal Paycheck Protection Program and other government COVID-19 relief programs at the start of the pandemic, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Cook County sheriff’s officials opened an investigation in 2020 into inmates using jail phones to discuss various kinds of financial fraud and found they were targeting state coronavirus unemployment insurance programs, federal business relief programs and personal bank accounts.
Many of the inmates talked about raking in tens of thousands of dollars.
Despite months of plotting, though, none of the inmates was arrested or charged with fraud in connection with the schemes, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, which, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Sun-Times, released hundreds of pages of investigators’ notes about recorded calls in which inmates were suspected of plotting to commit financial crimes.
The sheriff’s office blacked out the names of the detainees and the people they were talking to, citing privacy concerns. Other information was heavily redacted, too.
The lawsuit came after the sheriff’s office denied an Aug. 22 public records request from the newspaper, saying that releasing the records would “interfere with the FBI’s open investigation in this and related incidents.” A spokesman for Dart says the FBI requested the denial.
Sheriff’s officials contacted the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in 2020 when they discovered inmates engaging in potential fraud involving federal funds in multiple jurisdictions and across state lines, the spokesman said, referring questions to the FBI. --->READ MORE HERE
Three Defendants Convicted At Trial In $7.9 Million COVID-19 Fraud Scheme:
Jacob Carter, Quadri Salahuddin, and Anwar Salahuddin were convicted for submitting more than 1,000 fraudulent applications for U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that a jury returned a guilty verdict against JACOB CARTER, QUADRI SALAHUDDIN, and ANWAR SALAHUDDIN for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) that resulted in a loss to the SBA of approximately $7.9 million. The defendants were found guilty of all counts following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As the jury’s swift verdict shows, the proof at trial was overwhelming. The defendants schemed to steal from a taxpayer-funded program that was intended to help small businesses that were in desperate need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let this be a lesson that my Office will continue to work to bring to justice against those who exploit and defraud government programs during a national emergency. We thank the FBI for their partnership in investigating and prosecuting the alleged scheme.”
According to the Indictment, statements made in public court proceedings and filings, and the evidence at trial:
The SBA is a federal agency of the Executive Branch that administers assistance to American small businesses. This assistance includes making direct loans to applicants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress expanded SBA’s EIDL Program to provide small businesses with low-interest loans of up to $2 million prior to in or about May 2020 and up to $150,000 beginning in or about May 2020 in order to provide vital economic support to help overcome the loss of revenue small businesses were experiencing due to COVID-19. Applicants seeking a loan under the EIDL program were also permitted to request and receive an advance of approximately $1,000 per employee, for an amount up to $10,000, which the SBA generally provided while the loan application was pending. --->READ MORE HERE
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