The couple could face up to 20 years in prison
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Tarik Jaafar has been sentenced to 12 months in prison and two years of supervised release for 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. 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, Jaafar, 43, 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.”
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. On August 25, Jaafar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.
“As we’ve seen in the aftermath of many disasters and crises, criminals will exploit any opportunity to take advantage of programs intended to help businesses and individuals confronted with hardship,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division.
“In this instance, funds intended to alleviate the effects of the ongoing pandemic were illicitly converted to personal use. Today’s sentencing demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and its partners to combatting fraudulent activity. The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of those who attempt to defraud the government and take money away from those who are in legitimate need.”