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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus man who estimated he filed more than 3,000 fraudulent COVID-relief applications was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 72 months in prison.

The fraud scheme perpetuated by Ousmane Diane, 24, caused a loss of more than $908,000. He submitted applications for more than $2 million in funding.

Diane pleaded guilty in October 2023 to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, Diane used the identities of willing participants and stole identities to submit fraudulent federal fund applications. He submitted the fraudulent applications for both Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Diane organized the scheme for more than a year and recruited his six co-defendants in this case and others into the scheme. The defendant referred to the pandemic as the “bandemic” in reference to the stacks of federal cash he received.

Diane even advertised his fraudulent filing service through social media by posting: “Hey My Name is Ous And I Sell Methods To Help You Get Approved For Funds!!!”

Diane and six others were indicted in February 2023. All have pleaded guilty.

“Mr. Diane stole critical taxpayer money intended to help families during an unprecedented national pandemic,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Shawn Rice with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. “HUD OIG remains steadfast in its commitment to working with Federal prosecutors and law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who engage in activities that threaten the integrity of HUD programs.”

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Shawn Rice, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); and Elena Iatarola, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson. Assistant United States Attorney David J. Twombly is representing the United States in this case.