Texas woman convicted of COVID-19 rescue fraud | Takeover bid

A federal jury today convicted a Texas woman for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of more than $ 1.9 million in loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Law on coronavirus aid, relief and economic security (CARES).

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Lola Shalewa Barbara Kasali, 24, of Houston, submitted two fraudulent loan applications to two different lenders on behalf of her companies, Lola’s Level and Charm Hair Extensions. Through these loan requests, Kasali solicited more than $ 3.8 million in PPP loan funds. Kasali misrepresented the number of employees and the salary costs in each of the PPP loan applications. To substantiate these claims, Kasali also submitted fraudulent tax records. Kasali ultimately received over $ 1.9 million in PPP loan funds. The Department of Justice, along with its law enforcement partners, seized funds Kasali fraudulently obtained.

Kasali was convicted of two counts of making false statements to a financial institution and two counts of bank fraud. She is due to be sentenced on February 25, 2022 and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Deputy Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; Acting US attorney Jennifer Lowery for the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in charge Catherine Huber of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) – Central Region; Special Agent in Charge Sharon Johnson of the Office of the Inspector General of Small Business Administration (SBA-OIG) – Central Region; and Acting Inspector-in-Charge Dana Carter of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) – Houston Division made the announcement.

The FHFA-OIG, SBA-OIG and USPIS have investigated the case.

Deputy Chief Jonathan Robell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Prosecutor Matthew Grisier of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Assets Forfeiture Section are pursuing the case, with assistance from the Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim McAlister of the United States Attorney’s Office.

The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the CARES Act came into effect, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in over 95 criminal cases and seized over $ 75 million in cash from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous property. real estate and luxury items purchased with such a product. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous 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 Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at https: // www. justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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