Feds say reality star stole PPP funds meant to pay trucking company workers

Federal authorities accused the reality star of using the money to pay for lavish jewelry and child support.

A TV reality star is facing federal bank fraud charges for an alleged scheme involving a Georgia trucking company.

Georgia resident Maurice Fayne, aka Arkansas Mo, 37, was arrested and charged with bank fraud, according to a news release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Prosecutors say that Fayne misused funds from the Paycheck Protection Program  (PPP) to pay for lavish personal expenses like jewelry.

Fayne stars on the reality tv program Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.

According to the DOJ, Fayne, who is the sole owner of a Georgia-based company called Flame Trucking, submitted a PPP loan application in the name of Flame Trucking, stating that the business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200. 

Fayne sought a PPP loan for $3,725,500 that he said would be used to retain employees, make payroll, and pay for mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments.

Ultimately, Fayne received a PPP loan in the amount of  $2,045,800.

According to DOJ, “Within days, Fayne allegedly used more than $1.5 million of the PPP loan proceeds to purchase $85,000 in jewelry, including a Rolex Presidential watch, a diamond bracelet, a 5.73 carat diamond ring for himself, and to pay $40,000 for child support.  Such payments are not an authorized use of PPP funds under the CARES Act.”

When interviewed by federal agents on May 6, Fayne told authorities that he had used the PPP fund for business expenses related to Flame Trucking.

On May 11, federal agents searched Fayne’s home in Dacula, Georgia, and seized seized approximately $80,000 in cash, including $9,400 that Fayne had in his pockets, jewelry he purchased with the PPP funds. Agents also discovered a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith, which still had a temporary dealer tag on it.

Additionally, after executing seizure warrants for three bank accounts that Fayne owned or controlled, agents seized approximately $503,000 in PPP funds.

Small businesses can apply for PPP loans with an interest rate of 1% as part of the CARES Act passed into federal law on March 29. The interest and principal on a PPP load may be forgiven if the businesses spend the spends the funds within eight weeks of receipt and uses at least 75% of the forgiven amount for payroll.

At a time when small businesses are struggling for survival, we cannot tolerate anyone driven by personal greed, who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for keeping businesses afloat,” said Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “The FBI and our federal partners remain vigilant during this Coronavirus pandemic to make sure funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended.”