While the emergency relief program was designed to help struggling small businesses stay afloat during the global pandemic more than a year ago, federal investigators claim fraudsters — including trucking-related businesses — took advantage of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s chaotic launch to vie for billions in government-backed forgivable loans.
Now, federal prosecutors are attempting to claw back up to $70 billion in fraudulent and ineligible pandemic relief loans obtained through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
A reality TV star and owner of a trucking company is the latest to be sentenced in the feds’ effort to track down potential PPP loan fraud scammers.
Maurice Fayne, aka Arkansas Mo, 38, of Dacula, Georgia, who appeared on VH1’s reality TV show “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison on Sept. 14, related to the $3.7 million PPP loan he received for his defunct trucking company, Flame Trucking, and to fund his long-running Ponzi scheme.
“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” Kurt R. Erskine, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a statement. “The funds the program supplies serve as a lifeline to many businesses desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, and unfortunately his fraud helped deplete those precious dollars.”