Crime

FBI arrests Nigerian for COVID-19 loan scam, accomplices sentenced

Olusola Ojo, a Nigerian living in Owasso, Oklahoma, was found guilty of applying for COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans unlawfully.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Small Business Administration granted the cash.

A jury found Ojo guilty of all charges relating to the PPP fraud, according to Acting US Attorney Clint Johnson.

“Criminals should be aware that diverting taxpayer funds intended to assist struggling small companies survive the pandemic will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted,” Johnson said.

The attorney praised the efforts of the Federal Reserve, the Small Business Administration, and FBI officers in the case.

The offender, who goes by the name Sam Ojo, was convicted of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

As conduits for the PPP loans, the 42-year-old and two partners formed 12 bogus business organizations.

The company claimed a fictitious number of employees, payroll expenses, taxes paid in past months, ownership data, and a misrepresentation of their relationship.

Ojo, Ibanga Etuk, and Teosha Etuk each made several applications to a dozen banks for the same business.

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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.

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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.

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