Howland man sentenced for $2.5 million fraud involving gas stati - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Howland man sentenced for $2.5 million fraud involving gas station sales

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1030 Torrey Pines 1030 Torrey Pines
Shaukat Sindhu Shaukat Sindhu
CLEVELAND, Ohio -

A Howland Township man has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for defrauding banks out of $2.5 million through fraudulent short sales of gas stations in the Youngstown area.

Shaukat Sindhu, 56, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue Service, and one count of marriage fraud.

Sindhu owned several gas stations and other commercial property, but failed to make mortgage payments on these properties.

Sindhu and others defrauded First Midwest and Consumers National banks by making false and misleading representations about ownership of the properties between 2008 and 2014, using a false identity, and creating a fictional Middle Eastern investor that Sindhu used to create the illusion there was an independent buyer for the properties at a significant discount.

Tahir Iqbal of Crown Point, Indiana, acted as a straw buyer for Sindhu in a short sale, enriching Sindhu by reducing or eliminating the principle owned on the properties, according to court documents.

Iqbal was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day for his role in the bank fraud conspiracy.

In addition to using Iqbal as a straw buyer for the gas stations, Sindhu also used Iqbal's name to buy a $600,000 dollar home on the fashionable Torrey Pines cul-de-sac in Howland Township, according to government documents.

"Sindhu engaged in numerous illegal financial transactions in an effort to enrich himself.  He will be residing in a prison cell instead of his fraudulently obtained 13 bedroom home," said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office.

Iqbal also served as a straw buyer for Sindhu for a 16,800-square foot, nine-bedroom, 13-bathroom home in Oak Brook, Illinois. That home was forfeited as part of the plea agreement.

“This defendant acted like the rules did not apply to him,” Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon said. “He engaged in multiple fraud schemes, using his friends and family members without regard to the consequences.”

“Attempting to skirt your income tax obligations by using multiple Social Security numbers, dealing in cash, and concealing income and assets in the names of nominees is a recipe for criminal prosecution,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

The affidavit filed with the complaint may be viewed here.

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