Naperville man charged in COVID-19 relief fraud scheme
A Naperville man has been charged in connection with a COVID-19 relief fraud scheme, authorities said.
Siddiq Azeemuddin, 41, was named along with six other individuals in Texas by the U.S. Department of Justice. They are facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in attempts to obtain roughly $16 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The indictment alleges they conspired to submit more than 80 fraudulent PPP loan applications by falsifying the number of employees and the average monthly payroll expenses of the applicant businesses. In support of these fraudulent loan applications, they conspired to submit, and did submit, fraudulent bank records and/or fake federal tax forms, according to the charges.
Some of the PPP loan applications were submitted on behalf of companies the defendants controlled, authorities said. Other loan applications were submitted on behalf of entities that third parties owned, according to the indictment. In exchange for these, several of the defendants received large kickbacks, according to the charges.
The indictment further alleges the defendants laundered a portion of the fraudulent proceeds by writing checks from companies that received PPP loans to fake employees. Those that received checks included some of the defendants and their relatives, according to the charges. The fake paychecks were then cashed at a cash checking company Azeemuddin owned, authorities allege.
The indictment alleges that roughly 1,100 fake paychecks totaling more than $3 million in fraudulent PPP loan proceeds were cashed at Azeemuddin's business.
Federal agents also executed 45 seizure warrants in conjunction with the case. Some of items seized included a Porsche and a Lamborghini allegedly purchased with illegally obtained funds.
Along with Azeemuddin, the other individuals charged are Amir Aqeel, 52, and Pardeep Basra, 51, both of Houston, Texas; Rifat Bajwa, 51, of Richmond, Texas; Mayer Misak, 40, of Cypress, Texas; Mauricio Navia, 41, of Katy, Texas; and Richard Reuth, 57, of Spring, Texas. Azeemuddin and Aqeel also face charges of money laundering.