Fahad Shah, 45, was sentenced to 31 months in federal prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to wire fraud, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas. Law enforcement say the Murphy man had conducted a scheme to rake in more than $3.3 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The Justice Department and its partners will continue investigating and prosecuting those who carry out similar frauds, Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said in the release.
“Stealing limited COVID relief funds is the very definition of stealing from the less fortunate,” Ganjei said. “Every dollar that was stolen and extravagantly spent in this case was one less dollar that went to a struggling business scrambling to meet its payroll obligations to employees.”
Shah sought more than $3 million in PPP funds when he claimed his family’s business, Weddings by Farah Inc. (WBF), paid millions of dollars in compensation to its employees, according to the release. He also falsely claimed that WBF employed more than 100 people, when in reality, Shah and his wife were the only two workers.
But based on those lies, as well as forged documents, a lender gave Shah more than $1.5 million in PPP loans. Shah then used that money to pay off the remainder of his home mortgage and to buy three vehicles, among other things.
Weddings by Farah has annual revenue of $42,000, according to commercial data and analytics company Dun & Bradstreet Corp. A Facebook page for Weddings by Farah claims its “mission is to exceed our client's expectations through innovation, creativity and professionalism.”
Shah isn’t the first person to get in trouble for his misuse of coronavirus relief funds.
On Wednesday, officials announced that an Atlanta reality TV star had been sentenced on federal charges for fraudulently acquiring a PPP loan and for “running a Ponzi scheme from his towing business,” according to FOX 5.
In November, the 60-year-old owner of multiple Michigan pizza restaurants pleaded guilty to bank fraud after he admitted to submitting “at least nine falsified PPP loan applications,” FOX 59 reported.