Uncaring CARES Fraudster

Portrait of a woman reading her mail at home and looking very happy - domestic lifestyle concepts

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”.

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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.