California man pleads guilty for fraudulently obtaining $6.6 million in COVID-relief business loans
A Corona, California man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges in connection with a scheme to submit false loan applications that brought him more than $6.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds.
Muhammad Noor Ul Ain Atta, 39, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with wire fraud and laundering of monetary instruments.
Fraudulent PPP Loans & Money Laundering to Pakistan
According to his plea agreement, Atta submitted 11 fraudulent PPP loan applications for seven of his shell companies. The fraudulent PPP loan applications misrepresented the number of employees and the average monthly payroll expenses of Atta’s companies, and falsely certified he would use the loan proceeds for permissible business purposes. Atta also submitted false tax and payroll documentation in support of his loan applications. In total, Atta received $6,643,540 in loan proceeds even though none of his companies were legitimate recipients of relief funds at that time. Atta then laundered loan proceeds to bank accounts in the United States and Pakistan.
The plea agreement details one PPP loan in which Atta sought $1,267,714 for a company called Envisioning Future Inc. The loan application falsely represented that Envisioning Future had 73 employees and falsely certified Envisioning Future would use the loan proceeds for permissible business purposes, including the payment of payroll and other business-related expenses. The fraudulent application filed on April 10, 2020 was supported by falsified federal tax returns and false payroll data.
About one month later, Envisioning Future received $1,267,140 in loan proceeds, and the following day Atta wired most of the money to his mother’s bank account. Then in June 2020, Atta wired $1.3 million – the majority of which came from the Envisioning Future PPP loan – to a financial institution in Islamabad, Pakistan. According to the plea agreement, the wire transfer details included a note that the wire was “family support.”
United States District Judge Percy Anderson scheduled an October 17 sentencing hearing, at which time Atta will face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count.
COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
How to Report COVID-19 Fraud
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 (NCDF) Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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