A woman from Memphis, Tennessee is now in hot water with federal authorities after evidence surfaced that she had fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Plan loans and misused the money to fund her gambling habit. While this is not the first case of such gross mismanagement of federal funds, Kenyatta Danielle Hooper, 34, may expect to face the full severity of the law.
Breaking the Law to Fund Gambling and Extravagant Habits
Her gambling habit was just a part of extravagant spending and a desire for luxury, which means she was not entirely driven by an uncontrollable addiction, but rather deliberately and knowingly sought to defraud the federal government. She was arrested last week, as confirmed by US attorney Joseph C. Murphy of the Western District of Tennessee.
While Hooper is still innocent until proven guilty, the evidence against her is mounting. Murphy’s investigators claim that they have proof that the suspect has been submitting fake documents and making fraudulent applications to the PPP loans program.
The loans were supposed to protect businesses whose payroll has been hit by the pandemic. The idea behind the program was to ensure that no job is lost and that Americans don’t find themselves in a more difficult position by losing all of their income overnight. Hooper went over the top on her spending, and she even ended up buying a sports car.
She even got a bit of a reputation for her knack to defraud the government and was bribed by other individuals interested in defrauding the PPP scheme. The attorney’s office condemned those actions and stated:
Bad actors, unfortunately, have targeted this critical assistance program and fraudulently diverted much-needed resources.US attorney Joseph C. Murphy of the Western District of Tennessee
The prosecution withheld most of the details about how the scheme worked exactly, lest it gives other ideas about trying the same, it seems. In similar cases, though, people were setting up fake companies in order to secure federal funding.
Exploiting the System’s Weaknesses
A lot of bad funding is supposed to have gone due to the urgency of the matter in the initial stages of the program, but federal authorities are now rapidly catching up. Hooper was able to list several businesses and secure at least two loans, one worth $38,070 and one worth $20,833. Both were received in 2021.
Hooper supposedly ran one of the businesses from a business space on East Shelby Drive. Another Memphis local, a police clerk, was arrested and charged in April over misappropriation of PPP funds. The person in question used the PPP loans to purchase a house.