Feds: Man stole $17M in COVID-19 relief, bought luxury cars, houses

A Bentley Bentayga SUV is seen during 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. (Photo by Bian Zhengfeng/VCG via Getty Images)

A Texas man has been accused of stealing $17 million in COVID-19 relief funds and spending the money on luxury cars and houses, the Justice Department said in a press release on Friday.

Dinesh Sah, 55, submitted fraudulent applications for roughly $24.8M in PPP loans, but ultimately received roughly $17.7M.

The money was part of the CARES Act, which is designed to provide emergency financial relief to Americans suffering from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including small businesses. 

However, authorities say that Shah’s applications, filed under the names of businesses he allegedly owned or controlled, were made up and had no employees.

Shah took the money and spent it on multiple homes, luxury cars including a 2020 Bentley convertible, and sent millions in international transfers. 

“Today’s indictment shows Mr. Sah’s disgraceful display of greed.  Mr. Sah looked at the Paycheck Protection Program as his own personal piggy bank, treating himself to not only millions in cash, but several luxury vehicles and properties, all while legitimate small business owners in the United States desperately sought out ways to put food on their tables and to ensure their employees were paid,” said IRS Special Agent Tamera Cantu.

Sah has been charged with three counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud, and one count of money laundering. 

There have been multiple instances of people attempting to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, including a Florida man who used the money to buy a Lamborghini, a Detroit man who used it to buy several cars, and North Carolina man who received over $1.7M in benefits for companies named after characters from the TV show “Game of Thrones.”

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