Federal Jury Convicts Two In $11 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme

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Press Release- A federal jury in Atlanta convicted a Georgia man and woman yesterday for their roles in an over $11 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud scheme.

Teldrin Foster, 42, of Decatur, was convicted of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with 14 loan applications.

Carla Jackson, 55, of Tucker, was convicted of two counts of money laundering in connection with laundering the proceeds of a PPP loan.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between April and August 2020, Foster and co-conspirators submitted, or assisted in the submission of, PPP loan applications on behalf of 14 businesses seeking loans of approximately $800,000 for each company. In the loan applications, the co-conspirators certified that each applicant business was in operation on Feb. 15, 2020, and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes or that it paid independent contractors; that the funds would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments; and that the information provided in the application and in all supporting documents was true and accurate in all material respects.

The co-conspirators reported that each business had approximately 60 employees and approximately $300,000 in average monthly payroll expenses. To support these payroll figures, each business’s loan application was accompanied by an IRS Form 941, which employers use to report payroll taxes. In reality, each Form 941 was fraudulent.

After the PPP loan proceeds were deposited into the businesses’ accounts, Jackson and others laundered certain of the funds through a series of transactions that were devised to disguise the origins of the funds and how the funds were spent.

The defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the wire fraud and money laundering charges and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each of the bank fraud and false statement to a federally insured bank charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia, Assistant Director Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Demetrius Hardeman of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Atlanta Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Eastern Region made the announcement.

The FBI, IRS-CI, and SBA-OIG investigated the case.

Trial Attorney Siji Moore of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tal Chaiken and Samir Kaushal for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Justice Department in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.