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Atlanta couple pleads guilty to millions in COVID-19 and tax-related fraud

The couple reportedly obtained nearly $2 million in fraudulent loans from both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Impact Disaster Loan program.

ATLANTA — An Atlanta couple is set to face a U.S. district judge following, among other things, an undercover investigation from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation agents. The two pleaded guilty to fraud that counted in the millions.

Husband and wife Tiyari Collins and Farah Collins pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Georgia reported. Tiyari Collins also pleaded guilty to filing thousands of fraudulent tax returns.

Tiyari Collins is the owner of the Atlanta based tax-preparation business Collins Financial Services Group. The couple reportedly obtained nearly $2 million in fraudulent loans from both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Impact Disaster Loan program.

“The fraud here is outrageous,” U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in a press release. “Tiyrai Collins defrauded the federal government amid a historic pandemic. It is unconscionable that he and his wife stole from government programs designed to support small businesses and their employees struggling as result of COVD-19 pandemic.”

Tiyari Collins submitted applications for 11 different fraudulent loans between May 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020, the U.S. attorney's office said. Farah Collins was involved in submitting four of the loans as well, leading to $365,000 in distributed funds. The six fraudulent PPP loans and five fraudulent EIDL loans totaled more than $1.9 million.

The Atlanta couple spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained funds on unauthorized expenditures that ranged from luxury goods and personal credit card bills to office furnishings, the U.S. attorney's office said. Tiyari Collins and Farah Collins also filed false tax returns in relation to the fraudulent loans.

Tiyari Collins filed thousands of fraudulent federal tax returns through his business Collins Financial Services Group between Jan. 2015 and April 2020, leading to $3.8 million in losses to the IRS, they added. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation agents confirmed the tax fraud after conducting an undercover operation.

“The Collins family greedily lined their pockets with stolen government funds intended to provide relief to small businesses and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said. “Their actions affect every tax paying citizen, in particular those who need help most. The FBI will make every effort to ensure federal funds are used as intended.”

Federal agents were ultimately able to recover approximately $588,900 in fraudulent proceeds. Tiyari Collins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return. Farah Collins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

Sentencing for the Atlanta couple is scheduled for March 15, 2022. The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation are continuing to investigate the case.

“These guilty pleas are a victory for the American taxpayers,” IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey said. “It’s unfortunate that criminals continue to abuse the funds set aside to aid those impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. IRS-CI will continue to use our financial expertise to identify fraud, trace the funds, and bring the criminals to justice.”