Fraud and All That Jazz

Close-up photo of a woman using a smart phone app to type in the amount of cryptocurrency she wants to sell.

Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, of Charlotte, N.C., pleaded guilty to wire fraud for fraudulently obtaining a COVID-19 loan for almost $150,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Clifton admitted to defrauding the SBA by obtaining Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) based on false information she provided on her applications. (There’s no point in denying it when you are caught red handed.) EIDL are low-interest government-funded loans intended to provide financial assistance to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In April 2019, Clifton created Jazzy Jas LLC, an online retail clothing sales business. A little over a year later in July 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. (Ironically, she may have been eligible for loans if she hadn’t dissolved her business.)

Clifton included false information about fictitious employees, revenues, and a fraudulent tax document to support her application. (This included claiming that she had employees and that her business was actually functioning.)  In total, Clifton obtained $149,000 in disaster relief funds that were intended to go to small businesses that were struggling financially because of the pandemic.

The EIDL funds were deposited into Clifton’s bank account on August 14, 2020. She used the money from the EIDL loans to go on a shopping spree at diamond and retail stores. She made purchases at Nordstrom, Ikea, Neiman Marcus, Rooms To Go, Louis Vuitton, Best Buy, and more retail stores. (I don’t think the government’s idea of providing aid includes buying Louis Vuitton purses and a new bedroom set.) 

Clifton remained on bond following her guilty plea. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for wire fraud charges. A sentencing date has not been set.

If you think you are a victim of coronavirus fraud or have information pertaining to fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submit a complaint online using the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Charlotte Woman Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Falsely Obtaining Coronavirus Relief Loan,” published June 2, 2021.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler today and pleaded guilty to wire fraud for fraudulently obtaining a COVID-19 loan for almost $150,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced William T. Stetzer, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Mona Passmore, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS-CI), and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which oversees Charlotte, join Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer in making today’s announcement.










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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.