Six Houston-area men have been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $16 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans. A seventh individual from Illinois was also charged.
The indictment alleges that the defendants filed at least 80 fraudulent PPP applications, seeking nearly $30 million in PPP loan funds. Ultimately about $16 million was funded.
Amir Aqeel, 52 was the ringleader. He would create the loan applications for shelf or inactive companies, working with the other defendants who owned many of them. Other companies were owned by unnamed and not charged individuals. For some of the loans, Aqeel would keep 33%, with the business owner getting the rest.
Unlike other PPP fraudsters, the defendants went further by writing purported paychecks to fake employees. Many of these were the defendants or their relatives. Aqeel’s 86-year-old mother (not charged) received checks from at least six different companies that received fraudulent PPP loans.
Over 1,100 fake paychecks, totaling over $3 million, were cashed at Almeda Discount Store in SE Houston, owned by one of the defendants.
With some of the proceeds, it is alleged that Aqeel bought a 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and a 6,000 sq ft, $1 million house in Champion Forest.