Family accused of setting up fake OH farms for pandemic help

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CLEVELAND – A federal affidavit alleges six family members fraudulently obtained $ 7.4 million in pandemic relief loans by setting up dozens of bogus farming businesses in Northeast Ohio.

Two of the six family members, Aydin Kalantarov and Gunay Kalantarli, were arrested in California, where they reside, on January 25. The couple face charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank or bank fraud. Daniel Ball, of the public affairs office of the U.S. District Attorney for the Northern Ohio District, said charges could be laid against the other four people allegedly involved in the scheme. Ball said the DOJ is working to recover any funds fraudulently obtained.

According to the affidavit, Zaur Kalantarli, Nigar Kalantarli, Ali Kalantarli, Kandy Rodriguez, Aydin Kalantarov and Gunay Kalantarli “knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the Small Business Administration, which administers coronavirus aid.

An investigation last December found that the six family members registered dozens of agriculture-themed businesses at three homes in Northeast Ohio last spring, including Fresh Ohio Berries, Ohio. Natural Beets and Organic Ohio Broccoli.

The affidavit states that the Kalantarli family subsequently applied for and received 53 pandemic relief loans totaling $ 7,447,400. He also said federal agents were alerted to the fraud when they saw that companies received an EIN after April 1, 2020. Under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law passed by Congress last March, businesses were supposed to be in operation by February 1, 2020 to receive help.

Read the full affidavit here.

This article was written by Sarah Budson for WEWS.


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