Couple charged in COVID-19 fraud received over $1.4M, prosecutors say

Crime

The suspects were taken into custody at John F. Kennedy Airport

ASHBURN, Va. (WDVM) — An Ashburn, Virginia couple has been charged with illegally siphoning more than $1.4 million away from a COVID-19 relief program meant to help businesses survive the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Monica Jaworska, 43, and Tarik Jaafar, 42, were taken into custody at John F. Kennedy Airport after allegedly attempting to commit wire fraud via falsified Paycheck Protection Program loan applications. Officials said the couple was attempting to flee to Poland.

Jaworska and Jaafar reportedly submitted a total 18 PPP loan applications to 12 financial institutions in the names of four business entities between April and May.

Investigators learned that four of those applications were approved by three financial institutions, which disbursed $1,438,500 in loans to the couple.

Some of the funds were frozen but prosecutors with the Eastern District of Virginia say Jaafar succeeded in withdrawing at least $30,000 in cash.

If convicted, Jaworska and Jaafar each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Jaworska appeared in court Friday afternoon on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The Department of Justice encourages anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19 to call the national center for disaster fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.

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