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Four Fort Bend County men have been charged in connection to an alleged $35 million coronavirus relief scheme.

Hamza Abbas, 29; Khalid Abbas, 55; and Abdula Fatani, 55, all of Richmond; and Syed Ali, 53, of Sugar Land, are accused of conspiring with others to submit more than 80 fraudulent applications for federal coronavirus relief programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

The men are all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Khalid Abbas, Fatani and Ali are also charged with money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The four men are accused of submitting the false applications, falsifying the number of employees and average monthly payroll expenses for applicant businesses to seek more than $35 million in loan funds, and receiving more than $18 million, according to the indictments.

The defendants allegedly wrote checks from those companies to fake employees, which includes some of the defendants and their relatives, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The latest indictments bring the number of people charged in connection to the alleged relief scheme up to 15 people, including several Fort Bend County residents.

Other county residents charged include Rifat Bajwa, 53, of Richmond, and Raheel Malik, 41, of Sugar Land, according to a news release.

Malik pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, according to a release.

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