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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.

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Louis Vuitton US

A North Carolina woman allegedly went on a shopping spree with nearly $150,000 she illegally obtained from a coronavirus relief loan.

Federal prosecutors say Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, spent most of the money on high end luxury bags and shoes at Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus and jewelry stores.

Clifton appeared in court on 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 press release detailed how Clifton lied on an application to fraudulently obtain relief funds for an existing business during the coronavirus lockdowns.

She falsely claimed $350,000 in gross revenue for her online clothing business, Jazzy Jas, despite filing paperwork in 2020 that shows the business was dissolved, according to ABC News.

The loan application was approved in early August for $149,900, which she later spent during shopping sprees at over two dozen retailers, including Ikea and Rooms to Go.

On Feb. 17, Clifton was indicted on wire fraud in relation to a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.

If convicted, she faces 30 years in prison on each charge, plus a possible $1,250,000 fine.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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A member of the hip-hop group Pretty Ricky was arrested and charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Diamond Blue Smith, also known as "Baby Blue", was hit with federal charges after investigators say he attempted to obtain $24 million in PPP funds to buy lavish items, including a Ferrari.

Smith, 36, is accused of fraudulently obtaining a coronavirus relief loan and then using the money to purchase a $96,000 Ferrari among other luxury items.

Smith, of Miramar, Florida, along with Tonye C. Johnson, of Pennsylvania, appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Georgia on Monday.

According to the federal complaint, Smith and Johnson falsified loan documents to obtain a $426,717 loan under the Federal Paycheck Protection Program for his company Throwbackjersey.com LLC.

The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump to help small businesses suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith also applied for another loan in the amount of $708,065 for another company, Blue Star Records LLC. And he allegedly applied for loans in the names of other individuals, using falsified documents.

The Ferrari and other luxury items, as well as his bank accounts were seized by the feds.

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Smith, 2nd from right, is best known as a member of R&B/hip hop group Pretty Ricky. The other members are (L-R) Slick 'Em, Spectacular and Pleasure.

The group enjoyed modest success in the mid-2000s with their platinum singles "Grind With Me" and "On The Hotline".

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A Tennessee state senator has been charged with theft and embezzlement of over $600,000 in federal funds, Yahoo Finance reports.

A criminal complaint was filed against Senator Katrina Robinson, who is accused of stealing funds from government programs for her own personal enrichment.

Robinson, a Democrat elected to the General Assembly in 2018, received more than $2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her Memphis-based nursing school.

Robinson, a professional nurse, is director of The Healthcare Institute, which provides CNA training for jobs in the health care field, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said in a news release on Wednesday.

Robinson allegedly stole more than $600,000 and used some of the money to pay for her wedding costs, honeymoon expenses, legal fees for her divorce, and a 2016 Jeep Renegade for her daughter.

Robinson allegedly transferred cash from her nursing school's bank account to her personal bank accounts between 2015 and 2019.

The FBI executed a search warrant on her Memphis home in February. FBI agents visited her home again on Tuesday, OAN News reports.

The FBI launched an investigation after receiving a tip that Robinson used school funds to purchase a Louis Vuitton handbag.

Robinson also used the money on credit card payments, hair and beauty supplies, and home improvements, including a wrought iron front door valued at more than $5,000, the FBI said.

She also spent more than $4,700 on makeup, video services and a party for her wedding, and $5,000 on a trip to Jamaica, according to Yahoo.

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Robinson was defensive as she spoke with reporters on the courthouse steps on Wednesday.

"It is believed that if I were not in the position that I'm in, that if I did not champion the voices, the views and the faces that I represent, that I would not be in this moment right now with you today,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she will continue serving her district in the Senate "with the same integrity, the same passion that I've demonstrated since you've elected me to this office."

If convicted, Robinson faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. She is up for reelection in 2022.