Houston woman charged in $2M COVID-19 relief fund fraud

FILE PHOTO (Mark Wilson, 2013 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – A Houston woman was charged after she fraudulently obtained more than $1.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas.

Lola Shalewa Barbara Kasali, 22, was charged with making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

According to the criminal complaint, Kasali submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, one on behalf of an entity called Lola’s Level and the other in the name of Charm Hair Extensions. She received more than $1.9 million in PPP loan funds and after the approval of Lola’s Level application, according to the complaint.

Kasali transferred the money in four separate bank accounts after receiving the funds, which were later seized by authorities, according to the charges.

The loan stated both Charm Hair Extensions and Lola’s Level had several employees and payroll expenses -- but neither company had employees or pay wages that consisted of the amount Kasali claimed, according to the charges.

She appeared in court before a U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina Bryan in Houston at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

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