Skip to main content
May 8, 2023San Diego, CA, United StatesFinancial Crimes, Covid-19

Former San Diego resident charged with COVID relief fraud, money laundering

SAN DIEGO — An investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Small Business Administration resulted in federal charges for a former San Diego resident living in Morocco.

Nasser Salman, 60, was arraigned in federal court May 4, on charges that he fraudulently obtained more than $400,000 in COVID-relief loan funds on behalf of three companies.

According to the indictment, Salman submitted fraudulent applications to the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program in connection with Lemon Grove Deli and Grill, Inc.; Al Laith Trading and Construction Consulting Inc.; and Alliance Security Consulting Services, Inc.

The indictment said that between April and August 2020, Salman made false representations about the number of employees, the average monthly payroll, and the gross receipts earned by these purported businesses to obtain five loans worth $401,000 under the two programs. Salman also submitted fictitious documents to support the applications.

According to the indictment, when Salman applied for the loans, he acknowledged the funds must be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage interest payments, lease payments and utility payments. Instead, he engaged in a series of financial transactions, including international wire transfers to a Morocco-based bank account, that were designed to conceal and disguise the fact that the sources for the funds were the fraudulently obtained loans.

“COVID relief fraud not only waste taxpayers’ dollars; it undermines the public trust of government programs,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice fraudsters who diverted financial relief away from Americans at a time when they need it the most.”

“These loan programs were designed to render economic relief to Americans during an unprecedented public health emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This office is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting those who exploited the global pandemic to enrich themselves. We encourage anyone with information regarding individuals who have engaged in COVID relief fraud to come forward.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team and the law enforcement agencies for their excellent work on this case.

A detention hearing is scheduled for May 9, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020 and is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the paycheck protection program. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional paycheck protection funding.

Anyone with general information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.