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Tulsa Couple Plead Guilty to Bank Fraud After Applying for Paycheck Protection Program Loans under False Pretenses

Publication date: 
Monday, April 12, 2021

A Tulsa couple who fraudulently applied for Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act pleaded guilty in federal court, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

Ibanga Etuk, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft on April 9. Teosha Etuk, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud on April 6.

“Ibanga and Teosha Etuk exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to steal taxpayer-funded resources from small businesses, and because of this, they are now convicted felons,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The Coronavirus Anti-Fraud Team and our partners at the Small Business Administration, Federal Reserve Board and FBI remain committed to protecting the integrity of critical resources provided by Congress to assist the American people.”

Ibanga Etuk admitted that from April 6, 2020, to April 29, 2020, he knowingly applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from Frontier State Bank under false pretenses. The defendant lied about the number of people employed during the previous months of purported operations, the payroll expenditures during the previous months, taxes paid during previous months of operation, ownership of the business, and relationships between the parties in a $300,000 loan application submitted for Ab0veAll Business Inc.

Ibanga Etuk further admitted that during the same time he unlawfully used another individual’s identity on payroll records submitted to Frontier State Bank when he applied for the $300,000 loan.

Teosha Etuk admitted that from April 14, 2020, to April 29, 2020, she fraudulently applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan through First Liberty Bank. Specifically, she lied about the number of people employed during the previous months of purported operations, the payroll expenditures during the previous months, taxes paid during previous months of operation, ownership of the businesses and relationships between the conspirators in a loan application for $150,000 for the company TMARK Enterprises, Inc.

Also charged in the indictment is Olusolo Ojo, 42, of Owasso. Ojo is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  

According to the indictment, the Etuks created 12 fictitious business entities that would fraudulently apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. During this time, Ibanga Etuk and Teosha Etuk submitted multiple applications for the same businesses to more than ten different banks, without disclosing to those banks that they were submitting duplicative applications. They conspired to obtain loans in the approximate amount of $5,430,585 and actually obtained funding from banks in the total approximate amount of $995,385.

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Office of Inspector General; Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General; and FBI are the investigative agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristin Harrington and Victor A.S. Régal are prosecuting the case.

In March 2020, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion economic relief bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anticipating the need to protect the integrity of these taxpayer funds and to otherwise protect Americans from fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Justice immediately stood up multiple efforts dedicated to identifying, investigating, and prosecuting such fraud. Leveraging data analysis capabilities and partnerships developed through its vast experience combatting economic crime and fraud on government programs, the Justice Department’s response to COVID-19 related fraud serves as a model for proactive, high-impact white-collar enforcement. This rapid and nationwide response enabled the Justice Department to quickly ensure accountability for wrongdoing amid a national crisis and sent a forceful message of deterrence during an ongoing crisis.

The Department of Justice has publicly charged 474 defendants with criminal offenses based on fraud schemes connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. These cases involve attempts to obtain over $569 million from the U.S. government and unsuspecting individuals through fraud and have been brought in 56 federal districts around the country. These cases reflect a degree of reach, coordination, and expertise that is critical for enforcement efforts against COVID-19 related fraud to have a meaningful impact and is also emblematic of the Justice Department’s response to criminal wrongdoing.

To learn more about the Justice Department’s COVID response, visit: https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus  For further information on the Criminal Division’s enforcement efforts on PPP fraud, including court documents from significant cases, visit the following website: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.  For further information on the Civil Division’s enforcement efforts, visit the following website: https://www.justice.gov/civil.

To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form 

Additional Details
URL
Component
USAO - Oklahoma, Northern;
OIG
Small Business Administration OIG