MILWAUKEE- Four men, including one from Milwaukee, are facing numerous charges after federal investigators accused them of stealing more than $874,000 in funding meant to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aziz Bey of Milwaukee, Letez Bey of Illinois, Devine-Seven El of Maryland and Minister Zakar were indicted this week on charges of mail & wire fraud related to a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration out of funding meant for those affected by the pandemic.
The multi-page indictment says the men set up a handful of fake businesses, one in agriculture, one in real estate development, two in business services and three printing companies between June of 2020 and July 2021. During that time the men were able to submit false Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program loan applications.
The indictment says the group received $774,800 in EIDL loans and $99,429 in PPP loans.
The scheme was uncovered as part of a national investigation aimed at targeting COVID-19 funding fraud. On Friday the Secret Service says it returned $286 million to the Small Business Administration from fraudulently collected EIDL funding. Since the start of the pandemic more than $2.3 billion has been stolen from federal assistance programs.
The charges against Bey and the others include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and four counts of unlawful monetary transactions.