Woman issued PPP loans for sports cars and gambling

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A Memphis woman is accused of illegally receiving thousands of dollars in PPP loans and spending the money on personal trips, concerts, gambling and a new Maserati.

Kenyatta Danielle Hooper, 34, was indicted by a federal grand jury in May on six counts of wire fraud. She was arrested last week, according to US Attorney Joseph C. Murphy of Tennessee’s Western District.

Murphy’s office said Hooper allegedly submitted forged documents and fraudulent applications for the Payment Protection Plan loans and instructed others to do the same. These loans were intended to be used for payroll, rent or company utilities as part of the government’s effort to support small businesses post COVID-19.

However, authorities said Hooper spent the money on himself, including buying the sports car. She is also said to have received bribes for helping others make fraudulent loan applications.

The fraudulent scheme drew sharp comments from the US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, who said in part, “Unfortunately, bad actors have targeted this important utility and fraudulently diverted much-needed resources.”

Prosecutors haven’t released many details about the program, but Memphis-based Kenyatta Hooper is listed in an online database as having received a $38,070 PPP loan in March 2021. The business listed in their application was classified as a hobby, toy, or game store, with four employees.

Records show Hooper is also listed as the sole owner of Smart Money Solutions on East Shelby Drive. The now-vacant store also received a $20,833 PPP loan in April 2021.

A clerk at one of the other stores in the mall, who asked not to be identified, said she only saw Hooper at Smart Money Solutions a couple of times and never saw a customer inside.

We tried to reach Hooper on a number provided for the store but got a recording.

The United States Secret Service’s Memphis Field Office assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Hooper’s arrest.

Hooper faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of fraud.

In April, a former Memphis police officer was arrested and charged with illegally obtaining PPP loans to buy a home.

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