Walmart to Louis Vuitton: NC woman spent $250K COVID loan on shopping spree, feds say

A 24-year-old woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, is accused of going on a shopping spree with a fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief loan totaling $150,000.

A 24-year-old woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, is accused of going on a shopping spree with a fraudulently obtained COVID-19 reduction loan totaling $150,000.

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A 24-year-old Charlotte womanaccused of submitting a pretend utility for a $150,000 coronavirus reduction loan spent the cash shopping at greater than two dozen shops that ran the gamut from Walmart to Louis Vuitton, in accordance to federal prosecutors.

Jasmine Johnnae Clifton made her first appearance in front of a federal judge Monday after a grand jury indicted her on fraud costs final week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina mentioned in a information launch. Clifton was subsequently launched on a $25,000 bond, courtroom paperwork present.

A public defender appointed to symbolize Clifton declined to remark on pending litigation in an e mail to McClatchy News on Tuesday.

The alleged fraud stems from Clifton’s on-line retail enterprise. Clifton filed articles of incorporation for a companies known as Jazzy Jas that offered garments on-line in February 2019 and registered it to her residence tackle, prosecutors mentioned in a invoice of indictment.

Jazzy Jas reportedly lasted eight months, and the paperwork to dissolve the corporate was filed in early 2020 with a retroactive efficient date in September 2019, courtroom paperwork present.

But a number of months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, prosecutors mentioned Clifton used the defunct enterprise to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan by way of the Small Business Administration. The EIDL program supplies low-interest financing in areas struck by catastrophe and was expanded below the CARES Act. The growth allowed the loans to be used as working capital to offset monetary fallout from the pandemic, prosecutors mentioned.

Clifton reportedly utilized for a loan in July. In her utility, courtroom paperwork state she claimed Jazzy Jas had earned $350,000 in gross income over the earlier 12 months.

The utility was accepted in early August, and $149,900 was deposited in Clifton’s private checking account a number of days later, in accordance to the indictment.

In the months that adopted, prosecutors mentioned Clifton spent the cash at a string of shops shopping for quite a lot of gadgets, from mattresses and footwear to automobile elements, diamonds and designer luggage. The shops she shopped at included:

Nike, Dillards, Nordstrom, Ikea, Best Buy, Mattress Firm, Rooms To Go, Lowes, Kirklands, Ross, Foot Locker, Target, Walmart, Guitar Center, LS Biggs Camera, Best Buy, Amazon, Lyft, Saks New York, Nieman Marcus, Diamond Castle New York, American Airlines, DwellingGoods, Diamonds by David, Progressive Insurance, Embassy Suites, Dirty South Customs, Liberty Buick GMC and Louis Vuitton.

A grand jury indicted Clifton on costs of wire fraud in relation to a catastrophe profit and fraud in reference to main catastrophe or emergency advantages on Feb. 17.

If convicted, prosecutors mentioned she faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1 million wonderful on the wire fraud costs and 30 years in jail and a $250,000 wonderful on the fraud costs.

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Hayley Fowler is a reporter at The Charlotte Observer protecting breaking and real-time information throughout North and South Carolina. She has a journalism diploma from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and beforehand labored as a authorized reporter in New York City earlier than becoming a member of the Observer in 2019.

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