CLEVELAND, Ohio (WYTV) – A Warren man was indicted Thursday in federal court on six counts relating to his attempt to swindle several banks out of millions of dollars.
Shaukat Sindhu, 55, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and one count each of making false statements to a financial institution and corrupt interference with the administration of the IRS.
An indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Youngstown shows that an FBI agent believes that between Aug. 2010 and Feb. 2014, Sindhu created two false identities and used them to try to “reduce and/or eliminate the principle owed on the mortgages” for several gas stations he was operating.
The indictment claims that Sindhu purchased 12 gas stations, at least some of which were in the Youngstown area, in 2006 using a loan from a bank in Illinois. The document also alleges that Sindhu used friends, family members and the fake identities to sign for loans and various paperwork even though he was controlling the operations and financial dealings of the gas stations.
The indictment states that Shaukat used two fake identities, “Shawn Chaudhry,” and “Mohammad El Hafiz” to deceive banks. “Mohammad El Hafiz” was set up to look like an overseas businessman, according to the court documents.
The agent also claims that the identity of “El Hafiz” was exposed as fake using information from Google that showed “El Hafiz” could not have been outside the U.S. when sending emails. In addition, Hayes said that Shaukat misspelled “El Hafiz” as “Al-Hafiz” in several emails.
Two officials at Consumers National Bank in Minerva, Ohio told the FBI that Sindhu presented himself to them as “Shawn Chaudhry.”
In one case, a company set up by Sindhu failed to make payments for a loan obtained for some of the gas stations, according to the FBI’s investigation. Sindhu then sent emails back and forth between himself and “El Hafiz,” then presented those emails to a bank as evidence that “El Hafiz” wanted to buy the loan notes at a discounted price, according to the FBI.
The investigation also claims that some of the emails Sindhu sent in the process have an IP address that traced back to Warren in Trumbull County.