SAVANNAH, Ga. (WRBL) – Four individuals have been charged with engaging in COVID-19 fraud schemes, and three have already pled guilty to their respective charges.

All defendants were charged through Criminal Informations, resulting from ongoing investigations into the exploitation of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 financial relief programs, announced U.S. Attorney David H. Estes.

The guilty plea subjects each defendant to statutory sentences of up to 30 years in prison, large restitution payments, fines, and supervised release.

“Congress approved significant funding to assist small businesses during the early shutdowns and financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will identify and hold accountable those who misuse this funding to satisfy their own greed at the expense of taxpayers.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed into law in March 2020, authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) to supply loans to help businesses stay afloat financially during the pandemic.

All three defendants confessed to misusing the programs for their personal benefit. The fourth defendant is awaiting further court proceedings.

The following defendants are accused of or confessed to seeking relief payments through fraudulent means to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and/or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans:

Shakeena Hamilton, 34, from McRae, Georgia, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. government. Hamilton confessed to aiding others in falsely applying for PPP relief. Hamilton is responsible for the government disbursing over $2.3 million to banks for other conspirators. As a result, Hamilton received over $300,000 from co-conspirators for her involvement in the scheme.

Anissa Carr, 22, from Hinesville, Georgia, and her husband, Montrez Burns, 24, from Hinesville, Georgia, are both awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to wire fraud. Carr and Burns admitted to seeking and fraudulently obtaining tens of thousands of dollars in PPP loans for their fake businesses.

Anatoly Rybin, 41, from Richmond Hill, Georgia, is charged via criminal informations with a false statement on a loan application to the SBA for an EIDL loan, resulting in him receiving $110,000. Rybin is awaiting further court proceedings.

The Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District will prosecute the case for the United States.