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2 from Connecticut among 6 charged with fraudulently seeking to obtain $9M in COVID-19 relief funds

Documents falsely claimed that applicants operated faith-based organizations and churches.
Credit: FOX61

CLEVELAND — Two Connecticut residents are among six people charged Tuesday in Ohio in a 14-count indictment for allegedly scheming to fraudulently obtain about $9 million in COVID-19 relief funds and using part of the money to purchase for vehicles.

Samira Abdul-Karim, 27, of New Haven and Quwan Simmons, 28, of Hartford are accused of devising a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other financial institutions by obtaining Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program under false pretenses.

They are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

The other four charged were: Terrence L. Pounds, 44, of Holland, Ohio; Charles B. Tiller, 37, of Columbus, Ohio; Terri Davis, 30, of Old Hickory, Tennessee and Randolph Nunn, 48, of Canton, Ohio.

Pounds, Nunn, Davis, and Tiller were also charged with various counts of money laundering.

“COVID-19 relief funds are intended to support hardworking Americans and small businesses struggling with financial challenges as a result of the pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to pursuing anyone alleged to have fraudulently obtained relief funding.”

According to the indictment, the scheme ran from about March 31, 2020 until about Dec. 17, 2020. Pounds allegedly recruited Tiller, Davis, Nunn, Abdul-Karim, Simmons and others to provide him with their personal identifying information, which he then used to apply for EIDL loans in their names.

Authorities said Pounds claimed in the applications that they each operated a non-profit “Faith-based organization” or a “church” with $1 million in revenue and 15 employees.

Based on this false information, the SBA approved these loan applications. In return, the indictment states that Tiller, Davis, Nunn, Abdul-Karim and Simmons then paid Pounds a portion of the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds,

"Tiller, Davis, Nunn, Abdul-Karim and Simmons are all accused of using the EIDL loan proceeds for the benefit of themselves and others, and in a manner that was inconsistent with the purposes of the EIDL program,” authorities said.

Officials said Pounds submitted a loan application for a purported church that he claimed to operate. The SBA approved and funded this loan application. Officials accused Pounds of using portions of the loan proceeds and payments received from others to purchase a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2021 Kia Telluride, a 2020 Hyundai Elantra and a 2020 BMW X4.

According to the indictment, Pounds, Tiller, Davis, Nunn, Abdul-Karim and Simmons, together and with other co-conspirators, submitted at least 60 fraudulent EIDL loan applications and other fraudulent PPP loan applications seeking a total of approximately $9 million. The SBA approved approximately $3.3 million.

The public is asked to submit any allegations of COVID-19 fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

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