Northern Virginia couple charged in $1.5 million coronavirus fraud scheme

A northern Virginia couple has been charged with fraud after prosecutors say they received nearly $1.5 million in federal funds meant for businesses struggling under the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria say 43-year-old Monica Magdalena Jaworska of Ashburn and her husband, 42-year-old Tarik Jaafar of Woodbridge, were arrested Saturday at Kennedy International Airport in New York after buying one-way tickets to Poland.

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Prosecutors say the pair filed 18 different loan applications under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Four loans totaling more than $1.4 million were approved.

According to an affidavit filed by an investigator with the Small Business Administration, they used fraudulent IRS forms to indicate they were supporting dozens of employees. But an investigation revealed strong evidence the businesses didn't really exist.

Prosecutors say the couple bought the plane tickets after officers sought to interview them.

Most of the funds were frozen but prosecutors say Jaafar was able to withdraw at least $30,000 in cash.

Jaworska made an initial appearance Wednesday and was ordered held pending a detention hearing Friday. Jaafar has not yet made an initial appearance, according to court records.

A public defender appointed to represent Jaworska did not immediately return an email seeking comment Wednesday.