MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man and three other people from out of state are charged with stealing $874,229 in federal funding intended to benefit small businesses.
Aziz Bey of Milwaukee, Letez Bey of Illinois, Divine-Seven El of Maryland and Florida and Minister Zakar were indicted earlier this week on multiple charges related to a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration out of funds intended to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The indictment states that between June 2020 and July 2021, the group of men submitted numerous bogus applications for Economic Disaster Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. ). These requests included supporting financial documents, including bank statements and IRS forms, which also included false earnings, income and expenses, according to the indictment.
The bogus companies included one in agriculture, one in property development, two in business services and three printing/graphic design companies. In total, the group of men received $774,800 in EIDL.
The indictment also says the men filed P3 applications for construction equipment, management consulting, credit bureaus and a hair salon. In total, they received $99,429 in PPP loans.
It’s part of a larger national problem involving people falsifying information to raise COVID relief funds from the government. On Friday, the United States Secret Service announced that it had returned $286 million to the Small Business Administration from fraudulently collected EIDL funds. It’s part of the $2.3 billion stolen nationwide since the pandemic began.
“The Secret Service is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the nation’s financial systems from fraud and holding those responsible accountable for their criminal activities,” Deputy Director David Smith said in a press release. “By helping to return nearly $2.3 billion in stolen funds over the past 30 months, our workforce has demonstrated a clear and firm commitment to the vitality of American businesses across the country.”
In total, Wisconsin business owners received nearly $4 billion in EIDL. The American secret services and the SBA did not indicate which part of this sum had been taken fraudulently.
The charges against Bey and the others include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and four counts of illegal money transactions.
Read the indictment below:
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