North Carolina woman caught using COVID-19 relief money to buy clothes and jewelry, police say
24-year-old North Carolina woman arrested for allegedly taking out a loan for a business that no longer exists, then using the COVID-19 relief money she received to go on a 149,000 shopping spree $, officials said.
On February 17, a grand jury indicted Jasmine Johnnae Clifton on charges of wire fraud in connection with a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with a major disaster or emergency benefits after she allegedly went shopping. with money she had received to support a business that had been dissolved, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
Some of the companies she allegedly bought big-ticket items from included Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s, as well as several diamond stores, authorities said. Clifton is accused of engaging in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration by obtaining an Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) based on false information, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
The loan was part of the CARES Act Economic Disaster Lending Program. Funding has been provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) of the United States to small businesses in North Carolina “suffering substantial economic harm” as a result of the pandemic, according to a statement from the SBA.
More than 74% of small businesses reported experiencing a moderate or significant overall negative effect from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent data available in the US Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey.
“My office is working hard to find criminals trying to exploit the pandemic and steal money intended for the economic recovery of businesses and communities in the Western District of North Carolina. US lawyer Andrew Murray told CNN.
Clifton appeared in court last week and was released on $ 25,000 bail. Clifton is represented by a public defender, who declined to comment due to the pending status of the case, CNN reported.