Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Former Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta cast member Maurice "Mo" Fayne was sentenced to 17 years in prison for defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

According to TMZ, Fayne was sentenced Wednesday to 210 months in prison (17.5 years) after pleading guilty to 6 counts of bank and wire fraud.

Fayne agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for dropping 14 other charges.

Federal prison time means Fayne will serve his full sentence.
 
READ ALSO: Mo Fayne Paid $5 Million to Casino to Cover Gambling Debts
 
After he's released from prison in 17 years, Fayne will serve 5 years of supervised release. He is also ordered to pay over $4.4 million in restitution.

Fayne was arrested on May 11, 2020 and charged with defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program for over $3 million.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Fayne, who previously dated reality star Karlie Redd, reportedly applied for the funds for a trucking company that never turned a profit. He told the bank he needed the cash to pay 120 employees.

Prosecutors say Fayne spent over $2 million in coronavirus relief funds on jewelry, a Rolex wristwatch, cars, and child support payments.

Federal agents served a search warrant on Fayne's Dacula home where they recovered $80,000 in cash, including $9,400 that Fayne had in his pockets. Feds seized a 2019 Rolls Royce Wraith with the dealer tag still on it.

In addition to bank fraud, Fayne was charged with running a six-year Ponzi scheme and defrauding 20 investors to cover large gambling debts, prosecutors said.

"Fayne used the investors' money to pay his personal debts and expenses, and to fund an extravagant lifestyle for himself," prosecutors said in a statement.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram.com

Ramon Abbas, an Instagram influencer from Nigeria, has pleaded guilty to defraud victims out of at least $24 million using email "phishing" scams.

Abbas, 37, was arrested in June in Dubai and extradited to Chicago to face money laundering and wire fraud charges.

Video shows a stunned Abbas in police custody inside his luxury 2-story Versace penthouse with its own pool and jacuzzi in Dubai. A childhood friend visiting him from Nigeria was briefly detained and released by special operations forces and Emerati police officers in June.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

Abbas now faces up to 20 years in prison in the US, after being extradited to Chicago then California last year.

Abbas and his crew hacked into computer systems after unsuspecting victims clicked on phishing links in emails. They then monitored the victims' emails looking for invoices or sales statements.

Abbas and his crew changed the banking info in the invoices, then siphoned the money into their own accounts. Victims included individuals and banks. The thieves stole $1 million meant for a children's hospital in Qatar.

Abbas cultivated an Internet persona that made him an Instagram star around the globe. He often wore expensive designer clothing, shoes and backpacks. His fleet of luxury automobiles worth $3 million were seized by police.

His lawyers told a judge that Abbas is the father of five children, including a child who lives with his mother in Virginia. But the judge ordered Abbas detained until his trial. Abbas was not allowed to stay with a girlfriend's uncle in Homewood, Illinois, because he was considered a flight risk.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

The federal prosecutor said Abbas "never visited" the girlfriend or their child in the United States and there is no evidence that he has ever even met this 'uncle.'

Abbas' lawyer said his client is a social media influencer who earned his millions legally by promoting high end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi on Instagram.
 


 

RapidEye/ E+ /Getty Images

A Washington D.C. pastor faces 20 years in prison for fraudulently obtaining $1.5 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Rudolph Brooks Jr. of Maryland deposited the funds into multiple bank accounts. The feds say he used part of the loan to purchase 39 vehicles including a 2018 Tesla Model 3.

The affidavit states warrants were issued to seize $2.2 million from Brooks' bank accounts.

Brooks, who is pastor at Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration church in D.C., is owner of Cars Direct, a buy here, pay here auto lot.

According to the affidavit, Brooks allegedly submitted false tax returns with his application for a PPP loan on behalf of Cars Direct in the amount of $1,556,589.

The Cars Direct loan was approved on May 9, 2020 and funds were deposited into an account associated with Brooks.

Under the terms of the federal CARES Act, PPP funds must be deposited into a separate bank account created specifically for the funds so the IRS can keep track of expenditures.

Brooks, 45, is accused of making multiple cash transfers from the account into his personal bank accounts.

The affidavit states he used the money for "personal expenditures" including credit card bills, restaurant purchases, retail shopping, groceries, mortgage payments, and automotive auctioneers.

Additionally, the feds say Brooks used the funds to purchase 39 used luxury cars for his used car lot.

Brooks allegedly purchased a 2017 Mercedes Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2018 Tesla Model 3, a 2014 GMC Yukon XL, among other luxury cars.

Thousands of people have been arrested for fraudulently obtaining loans.

Photo may have been deleted

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office

A Louisiana woman was arrested for refusing to return $1.2 million, mistakenly deposited into her brokerage account, Nola.com reported.

Kelyn Spadoni opened a Fidelity Brokerage Services account about a month before the firm installed "enhancement" software.

Schwab intended to transfer $82.56 into Spadoni's Fidelity account, but she received a jackpot of $1,205,619 instead.

Schwab immediately noticed the error and a request was made to retrieve the funds from Fidelity. But Fidelity sent Schwab a "CASH NOT AVAILABLE" notification, indicating that Spadoni had already withdrawn the cash.

When attempts to contact Spadoni failed, Schwab notified her employer at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. Spadoni worked there as a 911 dispatcher for four years.

Authorities discovered that Spadoni spent at least $48,000 on a 2021 Hyundai Genesis SUV. Investigators seized the vehicle and recovered about 75% of the stolen loot.

She was arrested and charged with theft valued over $25,000, bank fraud, and illegal transmission of monetary funds. Additionally, she was fired as a 911 dispatcher and is being held in jail on $50,000 bond.

Schwab has filed a lawsuit against Spadoni seeking the return of the remaining funds.

In the lawsuit, Schwab pointed out that Spadoni violated an agreement in the contract that states if a client receives an overpayment of funds, they are required to return the full amount.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

A woman who believed she was communicating with pop singer Bruno Mars via text messages was scammed out $100,000 -- her entire savings.

The 63-year-old victim, a resident of Texas, believed she was "in love" with the 35-year-old singer.

The woman told police she assumed she was in contact with 11-time Grammy Award winner "Bruno Mars" after she received text messages showing Mars performing while he was on tour.

In September 2018, "Mars" asked the woman to send him a $10,000 check to help cover his touring expenses, and she agreed, according to authorities.

She went to a local branch of the Wells Fargo bank in North Richland Hills and withdrew a cashier's check made out to "Basil Chidiadi Amadi," a person described as a "friend of the band," according to authorities.

The woman deposited the check into an account at JPMorgan Chase bank.

Two days later, "Mars" contacted the woman again and asked for another $90,000, which she withdrew in a cashier's check that was made out to "Chi Autos" at the request of "Mars," according to TMZ.

The $90,000 check was deposited on September 14, 2018 into a separate bank account at JPMorgan Chase, according to investigators.

Photo may have been deleted

TMZ

Investigators subpoenaed bank records and traced the two JPMorgan Chase accounts to Nigerian scammer Chinwendu Azuonwu, 39, and his co-conspirator Basil Amadi, 29, both residents of Houston.

Azuonwu, 39, appeared in court on Tuesday to face charges of impersonating Mars on Instagram to swindle the victim out of her life savings.

Azuonwu said he did not know how $90,000 was deposited into his account, according to the criminal complaint. He also denied knowing Amadi or the woman.

Azuonwu and Amadi are charged with third-degree felony money laundering, KPRC-TV reported. Azuonwu's bail was set at $30,000.

Photo may have been deleted

TMZ

Kevin Hart's former personal shopper was arrested on Wednesday, after allegedly defrauding the actor/comedian out of nearly $1.2 million.

Dylan Jason Syer - who was hired by Hart in 2015 - was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court, New York, on charges including grand larceny, first and second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the first and second degree and identity theft in the first degree.

Syer, 29, allegedly used Hart's credit cards to help fund his lavish lifestyle.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Syer made over a million dollars in unauthorized purchases using the comedian’s credit cards between October 2017 and February 2019. She said the actor's credit card was given to Syer "only to make authorized purchases" on his behalf.

Syer initially started small by making authorized purchases for the actor, then he escalated to make extravagant purchases for himself and to transfer large sums of Hart's money into his personal bank accounts.

He then purchased Louis Vuitton bags, "at least 5 Patek Phillipe watches valued at more than $400,000" and a Sam Friedman painting, which he sent by FedEx to his home and business.

Photo may have been deleted

Queens District Attorney's Office

He also purchased at least 16 Bearbrick collectibles dolls, clothing, shoes and jewelry, according to the D.A.

"The investigation revealed that the defendant used his business's credit card processing account to make unauthorized charges on Mr. Hart's credit card. Once those credit card charges were processed by Syer's bank, the proceeds poured into Syer's checking account," the D.A. said.

Photo may have been deleted

Queens District Attorney's Office

Following Syer's arrest on Wednesday, investigators searched his home, and recovered around $250,000 in cash and other items.

Katz issued a statement, saying, "I want to send a strong message to the defendant and others who seek financial gain through the victimization of others, that my team and I are committed to aggressively pursuing these actions and separating those who commit crimes from their ill-gotten gains, and returning those funds, where practical, to support the victims.”

Syer is due back in court on February 17. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Photo may have been deleted

Polk County Sheriff

The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of an 11th suspect who received $2,000 in federal CARES Act Funds intended for residents who were financially impacted by Covid-19.

Saget Genoret, 33, a Publix employee in Lakeland, was arrested after he used a falsified letter on a Publix letterhead to apply for the $2,000 benefits. Genoret claimed Publix cut his hours due to the pandemic.

During a Friday afternoon press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests of 10 suspects who fraudulently obtained Covid relief funds.

Judd said the fraud started with 49-year-old Phyllis Tirado -- a manager of McDonald's located at 416 West Central Avenue in Lake Wales.

TIrado didn't apply for funds herself, but she allegedly falsified a letter for a McDonald's worker whom she "felt sorry" for.

The employee, 34-year-old Ebony Chaney, received $2,000 in Covid relief funds from the federal CARES Act distributed through the Polk County CARES ACT program.

Authorities say Chaney didn't qualify for the funds she received.

"[Tirado] felt sorry for her employees," Judd explained. "Thought they could use some extra money so she dummied up a letter for one."

The form was then altered to remove Chaney's information and copies were handed out to employees at Publix, a literacy program, and the Scott Lake Health & Rehabilitation.

Photo may have been deleted

"In some instances," Judd said, "they took signed forms, scanned them in... and then wrote the information in. interestingly enough, in one of them, they spelled Phyllis' name wrong."

Judd added: "Yesterday, when we started arresting people, if you were in line at McDonald's, and you got your hamburger and it was cold, it's because we were arresting people."

The investigation, which began in June, is still ongoing. Judd said more arrests are expected. He issued a word of warning to anyone who stole money from the CARES Act: "If I were you, I would beat feet down to the county and give that money back before we figure it out."

He said the judge is more likely to be lenient with those who returned the funds before sheriff's deputies show up at their door with arrest warrants.

The suspects were charged with Obtaining Property by Fraud, Grand Theft, and Criminal Use of Personal ID.

One man, Mervin Suttle, 36, of Bartow, was also charged with fraudulently receiving food stamps and unemployment.

Another suspect, Patricia Taylor, 38, of Lakeland, worked as an LPN at a nursing home.

All of the suspects lost their jobs following their arrests.
 

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

U.S. defense lawyers representing Nigerian scammer Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, applied to withdraw from his case.

Gal Pissetzky and Vicki Podberesky said Abbas stopped communicating with them after he retained a new attorney to represent him.

The attorneys announced their decision after months of negotiations with the federal government, according to Premium Times.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

Abbas, 37, was arrested in June in Dubai and extradited to Chicago to face money laundering and wire fraud charges.

Video shows a stunned Abbas being taken from his luxury apartment in Dubai by special operations forces and Emerati police officers in June.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

His lawyers told a judge that Abbas is the father of five children, including a child who lives with his mother in Virginia. But the judge ordered Abbas detained until his trial, and said Abbas would not be allowed to stay with a girlfriend's uncle in Homewood, Illinois, because he is a flight risk.

The federal prosecutor said Abbas "never visited" the girlfriend or their child in the United States and there is no evidence that he has ever even met this 'uncle.’
 

Abbas' lawyer said his client is a social media influencer who earned his millions legally by promoting high end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi on Instagram.

After his arraignment in Chicago, Abbas was transferred to Los Angeles, California where his trial is set to begin in May 2021.

According to an affidavit obtained by Premium Times, Abbas and his co-conspirators stole hundreds of millions of dollars from 1.9 million victims around the world.
 

Abbas, pictured above in his $10,000-a-month apartment at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, also convinced hundreds of social media users around the world to set up bank accounts to launder that money.

He used the money to finance his extravagant lifestyle which he flaunted on Instagram.com.

Authorities seized his fleet of cars including a Ferrari, Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Lamborghini. He rocked $150,000 diamond-studded wristwatches and he purchased a Rolls-Royce SUV just to ferry his luggage to the airport.

Abbas regularly mocked his 2.5 million followers, telling them to get their money up and referring to them as "peasants."
 

Abbas and his crew swindled victims by sending emails that appeared to come from law firms.

"Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran was duped into sending $400,000 cash via a wire transfer after receiving a phishing email that she mistakenly believed was an invoice for a real estate transaction.

According to a Secret Service agent who investigates Nigerian email crimes, victims are tricked into sending money to bank accounts that the criminals control.

"These crimes are heartbreaking," Brian Krebs, the editor of KrebsOnSecurity.com, told The New York Post. "Victims send payments to the wrong place and, nine times out of ten, the money is gone."

Photo may have been deleted

Gwinnett County PD

A former employee at a Kroger store in north Georgia is accused of scamming the supermarket chain out of nearly $1 million.

Gwinnett County police say Tre Brown, 19, created more than 40 returns for $980,000 worth of non-existent items, and spread the refunds out over several different credit cards.

The refunds ranged from $75 to more than $87,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Corporate employees tipped off law enforcement officers after they noticed the fraudulent transactions while the employee who normally flags unusual transactions was on vacation.

Brown used his ill-gotten proceeds to buy clothes, sneakers, shotguns, and two cars.

Police say the Atlanta teenager had just bought a brand new Chevrolet Camaro when he was arrested Thursday. He has since been released from hail on $11,200 bond, CBS News reported.

Police say a "large sum of money" was returned to Kroger following the arrest.

Photo may have been deleted

Atlanta US Attorney's Office

The feds are cracking down on Georgia employees who submitted fake medical excuse letters that claim they fell ill after testing positive for Covid-19.

Santwon Antonio Davis, of Atlanta, was charged with wire fraud for emailing a phony Covid-19 medical excuse letter to his employer in May 2020.

Davis, 35, also pleaded guilty to bank fraud related to the scheme to defraud a mortgage company while he was out on bond for the Covid-19 wire fraud charge.

"The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak. "We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to Coronavirus-related fraud schemes."

Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said Davis caused "undue harm to the company he worked for and their employees," after the corporation sent employees home and shut down the Atlanta facility for cleaning.

Employees were paid to stay home - a loss in excess of $100,000 to the corporation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Georgia.

According to the complaint, the defendant was hit with an additional charge for submitting fraudulent documentation to obtain benefits from his employer prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Davis allegedly submitted a paid bereavement leave claim for the death of his child in the fall of 2019. But a subsequent investigation determined the child did not exist.

Davis' arrest is among the first in Covid-19-related employee fraud investigations currently underway in Georgia.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General.

"The FBI and our federal and state partners remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting any fraud related to this crisis we are all facing," said Hacker.