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COVID loan fraud: West Virginia woman accepted over $42K, Justice Department says

The Justice Department said Wednesday that a West Virginia woman pleaded guilty to wire fraud – admitting to accepting more than $42,250 in COVID-19 relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act.

According to court documents and a statement, 24-year-old Alexis Ransom, of Logan, applied for three Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from late March 2021 through August of that year for her “purported business.” 

She claimed her business, Alexis Renae Ransom, operated under the trade names Renae’s Fashion Consulting LLC and Momma & Me Boutique. 

Ransom has admitted that she falsely stated Renae’s Fashion Consulting was established in 2019 and had earned $66,900 in gross income in 2019 and 2020. 

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A Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower application form (iStock / iStock)

In addition, she claimed that Momma & Me Boutique earned $69,000 in gross income in 2019. 

However, the department notes, the investigation revealed that Ransom’s purported business and its trade names had not engaged in substantial business activity before February 2020. 

Furthermore, Ransom admitted that she submitted a false IRS Form 1040, Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business in connection with the first loan application she submitted for Renae’s Fashion Consulting.

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President Biden after signing the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act into law at the White House, March 30, 2021. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo / Reuters)

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The woman obtained two PPP loans of $13,937.50 each for Renae’s Fashion Consulting, as well as a loan of $14,375 for Momma & Me Boutique. 

Ransom said she later applied to have all three PPP loans forgiven – even though she had not spent the loan proceeds on permissible business expenses. 

The SBA forgave her loans in August of last year.

The Justice Department said Ransom has agreed to pay $42,250 in restitution.

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She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. 

Ransom is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 16.

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