Seven people in two states were charged in an indictment with stealing millions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds and spending it on luxury products, including a Lamborghini and a Porsche, federal authorities said Tuesday.
The suspects, based in Texas and Illinois, were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the Justice Department said.
Two suspects, Amir Aqeel, 52, and Siddiq Azeemuddin, 41, were also charged with money laundering. Others named in the indictment were Pardeep Basra, 51; Rifat Bajwa, 51; Mayer Misak, 40; Mauricio Navia, 41; and Richard Reuth.
The Justice Department alleged that the group submitted dozens of fraudulent loan applications that included falsified payroll expenses, tax forms, bank records and other documents.
Hundreds of fake paychecks were cashed by fake employees — including Aqueel's 86-year-old mother — at a check-cashing business owned by one of the defendants, the indictment alleges.
They sought $30 million from the Payroll Protection Program, the federal loan program that set aside more than $600 billion to assist small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic this year, according to the indictment.
The documents say they secured about $16 million before federal agents executed 45 warrants, seizing a 2013 Lamborghini, a Porsche and property in an upscale section of Houston.
It wasn't immediately clear whether they had attorneys.