(STL.News) – An Ashburn man pleaded guilty today to defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal initiative designed to help businesses pay their employees and meet their basic expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During a time of national crisis, the federal government set aside money to help struggling businesses pay their hardworking employees and keep their doors open,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Tarik Jaafar planned and executed a scheme to steal money from this essential program and use it for his own personal benefit. This office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make sure that federal economic assistance provides relief for beleaguered businesses and not profits for devious criminals.”
According to court documents, Tarik Jaafar, 42, conspired with his wife, Monika Magdalena Jaworska, to create four shell companies. These companies conducted no legitimate business and existed solely as a means to execute the scheme to defraud. From April 13 to May 6, Jaafar and Jaworska applied for 18 separate PPP loans in the names of the four shell companies valued at approximately $6.6 million, falsely claiming, among other things, that the businesses had employees and they needed the loans to pay their employees’ salaries. Jaafar and Jaworska fraudulently induced banks to distribute approximately $1.4 million in loans which they intended to use for their personal benefit.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was developed to aide small businesses during these challenging times,” said Hannibal “Mike” Ware, Inspector General of the Small Business Administration. “Our office will remain relentless in the pursuit of bad actors who seek to exploit SBA’s vital economic programs. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and commitment to seeing justice served.”
“Tarik Jaafar pleaded guilty to defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program while millions of Americans are suffering, physically and financially, and using the money to his own benefit,” said Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI will not tolerate anyone who schemes and steals government funds designed to provide much-needed relief to American business owners. The FBI is committed to tackling COVID-related fraud head on with our local and federal partners.”
On June 20, Jaafar and Jaworska were arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as they attempted to flee to Poland. The majority of the funds were recovered by the banks and by law enforcement.
Jaafar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on November 13. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Hannibal “Mike” Ware, Inspector General of the Small Business Administration (SBA); and Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Shartar and William Fitzpatrick are prosecuting the case.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Financial Institution Fraud squad and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, who work identify, investigate, and prosecute egregious misuses of the Payroll Protection Plan. Tips regarding financial and government fraud schemes can be reported to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.