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Federal prosecutors: North Carolina woman went shopping with $150K COVID relief loan

A North Carolina woman who lied to get a coronavirus relief loan spent the money on shopping excursions to Nieman Marcus, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and diamond stores, federal prosecutors said.

Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, appeared in court Monday and was later released on $25,000 bond, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

The release said Clifton applied in March for a Small Business Administration loan designed to provide relief to existing businesses harmed by pandemic shutdowns. She created false documents claiming $350,000 in gross revenue in 12 months for her online clothing business, Jazzy Jas, even though other paperwork filed in early 2020 showed the company was effectively dissolved in September 2019, it said.

The loan application was approved in early August and Clifton received $149,900, which she later spent at over two dozen retailers, also shopping at Ikea and Rooms to Go, the release said.

On Feb. 17, a grand jury indicted Clifton on wire fraud in relation to a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits. If convicted, Clifton faces 30 years for each charge and a possible $1,250,000 combined fine.

Clifton’s defender declined to comment on the charges Tuesday.

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