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General News of Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Source: www.mynigeria.com

Coronavirus Loan Scam: Nigerian convicted in U.S., accomplices sentenced

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A Nigerian living in Owasso, Oklahoma in the United States has been convicted for fraudulently applying for the coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Identified simply as Olusola Ojo, he was found guilty and convicted on all charges related to PPP fraud. He was found guilty of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

The PPP funds were provided by the U.S. government to Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Criminals should understand that diverting taxpayer money meant to help struggling small businesses survive during the pandemic will be fully investigated and prosecuted”, Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said as she announced the verdict.

The Federal Reserve, Small Business Administration, and the FBI agents who worked on the case were commended by the attorney.

Also known as Sam Ojo, Daily Post reports that the 42-year-old and his partners created 12 fictitious entities as conduits for the PPP loans.

The claimed bogus number of employees, payroll expenditures, taxes paid during previous months, details of business ownership, and a false representation of their relationship, Daily Post reported.

Ojo and his allies Ibanga Etuk and Teosha Etuk submitted multiple applications for the same business to a dozen banks.

They conspired to obtain $5,430,585 loans and obtained funding from banks totalling amount of $995,385.

Ojo applied for a PPP loan from Frontier State Bank under false pretenses from April 20, 2020, to April 29, 2020.

The convict also listed different lies in a $300,000 loan application submitted for Quicksold Market, Inc.

From May 8 to May, 11, 2020, Ojo again applied for a $150,000 PPP loan from Stride Bank submitted under false pretenses for the Inspired Group LLC.

Acting Special Agent Cory Nootnagel said the conviction sends a clear message that those defrauding the government of pandemic relief funds will be held accountable and brought to justice.

Acting Special Agent, FBI Oklahoma City, Alvin M. Winston told individuals trying to steal taxpayer dollars meant for people and businesses to be prepared to face the law.

Ojo will be sentenced on April 1, 2022. Ibanga Etuk, 41, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in federal prison. He must pay $168,000 in restitution to Chickasaw Community Bank.

Teosha Etuk, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. She must pay $150,000 in restitution to First Liberty Bank, reports Daily Post.

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