A Texas woman, La Donna Higgins, 37, allegedly used $3.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds to buy herself two houses, multiple cars, and a wide array of luxury goods. (Meanwhile, thousands of businesses permanently closed, while families on the brink deferred needed medical care and visited food banks.)
The Justice Department indicted Wiggins, for bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank, and money laundering. If convicted under the nine-count indictment, Wiggins faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million for misuse of loans to her businesses, Wiggins & Graham Enterprise and Pink Lady Line.
PPP loans may be spent on permissible business expenses such as mortgages on business property, rent, and utilities. Instead, along with the houses and cars, Wiggins allegedly used the loans to build a pool and rack up purchases including about $5,000 at Helzberg Diamonds, $46,000 at Neiman Marcus, and $63,000+ at Chanel. (Wasn’t that a nice little shot in the arm for the luxury retail sector?)
Wiggins’ lawyer issued a statement following the indictment, saying “We are very disappointed to learn that the government has decided to pursue criminal charges against our client, LaDonna Wiggins.” (Undoubtedly, many Texas businesses are disappointed to learn that this is where the government’s PPP funding went).
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Yahoo News article, “Texas woman accused of using $3.7 in PPP loans for homes, Chanel,” dated March 4, 2021.
A 37-year-old woman in Texas has been indicted on charges that she secured a $3.7 million Paycheck Protection Program loan and spent the funds on luxury items for herself.
LaDonna Wiggins of Houston has been indicted for bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank and money laundering. She faces up to 30 years in prison for misappropriating funds meant to save businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Additional information is available in a ABC7 Eyewitness News article dated March 3, 2021, “Houston woman accused of buying homes, Land Rover, Chanel items in alleged $3.7M PPP scam”.