West Virginia woman admits COVID-19 loan fraud scheme

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia woman has admitted accepting more than $42,000 in paycheck protection loans under a federal COVID-19 assistance program for businesses that were not engaged in substantial activity.

Alexis Ransom, 24, of Logan, pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud in federal court in Charleston.

Ransom obtained three loans that were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act, which provided emergency financial assistance to Americans hit by the economic impact caused by the pandemic. The SBA would forgive the loans if the borrower established that the proceeds were used for payroll, rent or other approved business expenses.

Ransom admitted she falsely stated that her two businesses were established in 2019 and had substantial income. She obtained two paycheck protection loans loans of $14,000 each for Renae’s Fashion Consulting LLC and a $14,375 loan for Momma & Me Boutique, court records showed.

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Ransom later applied to have all three loans forgiven even though she had not spent the loan proceeds on permissible business expenses. The SBA forgave her loans in August 2021, court records showed.

Ransom faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing on Nov. 16. She also agreed to pay restitution.

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