FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Florida woman was sentenced and two others from South Carolina face charges in a multi-million-dollar Paycheck Protection Program fraud scheme, according to the DOJ.
Tiffany McFadden, 40, was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for leading the scheme while working as a US Postal Service employee, the DOJ said. Two other USPS employees, Cherry Lewis, 43, of Johnsonville and Keisha Lewis, 33, of Hemingway, South Carolina, face felony charges.
McFadden was charged in South Carolina for her role in a national fraud scheme related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the DOJ said. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Congress authorized the PPP to provide emergency economic relief to businesses suffering as a result of the pandemic.
The DOJ said that according to evidence presented in court, McFadden was the leader of a scheme responsible for more than 400 fraudulent PPP loan applications, the majority of which were for applicants in South Carolina towns of Johnsonville, Kingstree and Hemingway.
McFadden and her co-defendants manufactured false and fraudulent documents claiming businesses that did not exist and did not lose money as a result of the pandemic, the DOJ said. As a result, McFadden and others received more than $2 million in loans, often as much as $20,000 at a time that they were not entitled to.
The DOJ said those loans were later fully forgiven by the US Government. McFadden and the others recruited loan applications by word-of-mouth, manufactured false and fraudulent tax and business documents and then applied for and received forgiveness for the loans.
“Every dollar stolen from the PPP program was stolen from legitimate businesses who needed support during unprecedented challenges facing our country,” said US Attorney Adair F. Boroughs in the release. “This scheme took advantage of the public’s generosity by stealing millions from taxpayers. We thank our law enforcement partners for bringing accountability in this case.”
McFadden’s sentenced will be followed by five years of court-ordered supervision, the DOJ said. She was also ordered to pay just under $2.2 million in restitution to the Small Business Administration.
The DOJ said felony charges are still pending against Keisha Lewis and Cherry Lewis.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Small Business Administration, Florence County Sheriff’s Office and Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office assisted.
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Caleb is a digital producer at News13. Caleb joined the team in January 2023 after graduating from Liberty University. He is from Northern Virginia. Follow Caleb on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.