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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. Texas Residents Arrested for Conspiring to Defraud Pandemic-Related Benefit Programs

Texas Residents Arrested for Conspiring to Defraud Pandemic-Related Benefit Programs Following HSI Houston, Federal Partner Investigation

Release Date: June 6, 2024

HOUSTON — Two Houston-area residents were arrested June 5 for conspiring to defraud pandemic-related benefit programs following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General; the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Office of Inspector General.

Shawn Nicholas Young, a 41-year-old resident of Missouri City, and Trenikia Lashae Banks, a 40-year-old resident of Houston, were arrested June 5 for allegedly conspiring to submit numerous fraudulent applications for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program provided through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. Both individuals were scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court June 6.

According to the 11-count indictment, Young and Banks devised a scheme to submit fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program applications to the Small Business Administration and several banks authorized to approve and fund Paycheck Protection Program loans the government backed. They allegedly submitted false tax documents, including fake personal and business tax returns, to support the loan applications.

The indictment alleges Young and Banks used the loan proceeds to make large cash withdrawals and to pay for unauthorized and non-business expenses such as residential mortgages, home improvement loans and the purchase of vehicles. Some of the money also went to Young as kickback payments for submitting fraudulent applications for the businesses Banks and others owned, according to the allegations.

If convicted, both Young and Banks face up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy and wire fraud as well as a $250,000 maximum possible fine. The money laundering count carries a possible 10-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Bauman and Shirin Hakimzadeh are prosecuting the case.

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to aggressively investigate COVID-19-related fraud and other COVID-19-related criminal activity in Southeast Texas follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSIHouston.

Anyone with information about suspected COVID-19-related fraud or other criminal activity is encouraged to report it to HSI by emailing the Department of Homeland Security’s S.T.O.P. COVID-19 Fraud Tipline at covid19fraud@dhs.gov.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Last Updated: 06/06/2024
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