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3 Ohioans charged for attempting to fraudulently obtain $9 million in COVID-19 relief funds

The three individuals were allegedly part of a six person team attempting to commit wire fraud.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a story published on March 10, 2021. 

On Tuesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that a federal grand jury in Cleveland has indicted six individuals for allegedly partaking in a scheme to obtain $9 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Terrence L. Pounds, 44; Charles B. Tiller, 37; Terri Davis, 30, of Old Hickory, Tennessee; Randolph Nunn, 48; Samira Abdul-Karim, 27; and Quwan Simmons, 28, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.  

Pounds, Tiller and Nunn are all residents of Ohio. 

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“COVID-19 relief funds are intended to support hardworking Americans and small businesses struggling with financial challenges as a result of the pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to pursuing anyone alleged to have fraudulently obtained relief funding.”

"These six individuals allegedly defrauded United States taxpayers by engaging in this scheme,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith.  “The CARES Act was designed to help struggling Americans, not for greedy fraudsters to line their pockets.  The FBI will continue to work with our partners to root out cheaters engaged in criminal financial deception.”

The indictment states that between March 2020 and December 2020, the defendants devised a scheme to obtain money from the SBA by Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under false pretenses. 

“The CARES Act was enacted with provisions to help struggling businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Cincinnati Field Office.  “Those individuals who have or continue to exploit the programs as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme will be held accountable for their actions.”    

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Pounds allegedly recruited Tiller, Davis, Nunn, Abdul-Karim, Simmons and others to apply for EIDL loans in their names, claiming to each operate non-profit organizations that were "Faith-Based."

The SBA approved the loan applications unaware of the false pretenses. The indictment also says the group used the loans for personal purchases. 

Pounds also submitted an SBA EIDL loan for a "Faith-Based Organization" and "Church" which he claimed to operate. Using a portion of the loan provided, the man is accused of purchasing a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2021 Kia Telluride, a 2020 Hyundai Elantra and a 2020 BMW X4.

 In total, the group-- along with others-- submitted at least 60 false loan applications seeking approximately $9 million in relief. The group was provided with roughly $3.3 million. 

Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a story published on Feb. 19, 2021.