Four defendants have been charged for their alleged roles in a fraud scheme related to the federal Paycheck Protection Program that involved nearly 100 people nationwide, including residents of Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
They are Jacob Liticker, also known as “Jay Stunna,” 25, of Houston; Kehinde Mubarak Ladepo, 26, an enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter; Ganiyu Victor Ladepo also known as “Victor,” 29, of Fayetteville, N.C.; and Maxwell Uzoma Okobi, also known as “Maxi,” 24, a North Carolina resident currently deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
The Payment Protection Program is one of the programs put in place in 2020 by the federal government to help businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The indictment alleges that the four defendants were part of a national scheme, led by Liticker, that attempted to fraudulently acquire $2 million in PPP loans and did acquire nearly $1 million in funds, according to a news release.
Evidence showed that Liticker created false PPP loan applications for nearly 100 people nationwide, typically for amounts around $20,000, and then helped them to submit the false information to Small Business Administration-approved lenders. In the process, he would also often create false tax documentation to support the non-existent businesses.
In exchange for his services, Liticker would receive a portion of the PPP loan proceeds, according to the release. Liticker also allegedly assisted in getting the loans forgiven.
“PPP loans were finite funds designed to help businesses stay afloat amid unprecedented times and extraordinary challenges,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “Every dollar wrongly taken from this taxpayer-funded program was a dollar that could not go to a legitimate business in need. This office takes pandemic-related crime seriously and stands ready to prosecute fraud related to the coronavirus in all its forms.”
Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, as well as fines and restitution.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Secret Service and SBA’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek A. Shoemake, who also serves as the office’s coronavirus fraud coordinator, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Marosek are prosecuting the case.