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Texas Engineer Charged with $10M COVID-19 Fraud

He claimed to have 250 employees. He had none.

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An engineer in Texas has been charged with allegedly filing fraudulent bank loan applications seeking more than $10 million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

According to the Department of Justice, Shashank Rai, 30, of Beaumont, Texas, claimed to have 250 employees when, in fact, he had no employees working for his purported business. 

Rai is charged with violations of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the SBA. 

According to court documents, Rai allegedly made two fraudulent claims to two different lenders for seek loans guaranteed by the SBA for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  

In the application submitted to the first lender, Rai allegedly sought $10 million in PPP loan proceeds by fraudulently claiming to have 250 employees with an average monthly payroll of $4 million.  

In the second application, Rai sought approximately $3 million in PPP loan proceeds by fraudulently claiming to have 250 employees with an average monthly payroll of approximately $1.2 million. 

According to court documents, the Texas Workforce Commission provided information to investigators of having no records of employee wages having been paid in 2020 by Rai or his purported business, Rai Family LLC.

In addition, the Texas Comptroller’s Office of Public Accounts reported to investigators that Rai Family LLC reported no revenues for the fourth quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020. 

According to court documents, materials recovered from the trash outside of Rai’s residence included handwritten notes that appear to reflect an investment strategy for the $3 million, which is the amount of money that Rai allegedly sought from the second lender. 

“The behavior in this case was very brazen,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown of the Eastern District of Texas. “Those who submit these applications for loans or other assistance need to understand that there are people checking on the representations made, and those representations are made under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury. Federal agencies are watching for fraud, and people who lie and try to cheat the system are going to be caught and prosecuted.”

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