CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP/WBTV) — Federal prosecutors say a North Carolina woman lied to get nearly $150,000 in coronavirus relief that she later spent on shopping sprees.
A U.S. Attorney’s Office press release says 24-year-old Jasmine Johnnae Clifton appeared in court Monday after being indicted last week on two fraud charges relating to disaster benefits.
The release says Clifton applied for a relief loan meant to help existing small businesses harmed by pandemic shutdowns. It says she falsified documents for an online clothing business that had been defunct since 2019.
A federal grand jury indicted Clifton on February 17 on charges of wire fraud in relation to a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits. According to allegations, Clifton engaged in a scheme to defraud the SBA by obtaining an Economic Injury Disaster Loan based on false information.
Clifton is accused of creating an online retail business, Jazzy Jas LLC, in April 2019. “On July 24, 2020, Clifton submitted a fraudulent loan application to the SBA for Jazzy Jas, despite the fact the company had been dissolved by Clifton several months prior,” documents allege. Clifton received $149,900 as a result of the fraudulent application.
The release says she spent the money at diamond stores and luxury clothing retailers. Her defender declined to comment.
Clifton was released on bond. The charge of wire fraud in relation to disaster benefit carries a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1,000,000 fine. The maximum penalty for fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits is 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.