A reality television star and trucking company owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury, charged with bank fraud, making a false statement to a federally-insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with a Paycheck Protection Plan loan. For good measure, the grand jury also charged him with wire fraud in connection with an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta reality star Maurice Fayne allegedly posed as the owner of a profitable trucking company and sought out individuals to invest in his trucking company from August 2014 through May 2020, according to U.S. Attorney Jin Pak. In actuality, his trucking company was anything other than profitable. Fayne was able to convice approximately 20 individuals to invest over $5 million over this period promicing the investors that he would be using the money to purchase and operate trucks for his trucking company, but instead of using this money for business purposed, Fayne allegedly used this money to pay personal debt and expenses.
According to the indictment, on April 15th, Fayne signed and submitted to United Community Bank (UCB) a PPP loan application for his trucking business Flame Trucking, stating that the business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200. In seeking a loan in the amount of $3,725,500, Fayne certified that the loan proceeds would be used to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments, as specified under the Paycheck Protection Program Rule.”
According to court records as soon as Fayne received the funds he began using the funds for various personal reasons including paying past due child support, restitution for a previous fraud case, custom jewlery, a luxury car lease and repayments cash payments to associates totaling over $1 million, including payments to associates who allegedly helped him run the trucking Ponzi scheme.
According to the indictment, Fayne structured these payments in an effort to conceal their purpose, which raised flags at the loans origination bank, UCB. UCB requested documentation regarding these questionable transactions to which Fayne sent forged bank statements from another bank.
When questioned by federal agents he stated that he used all the PPP funds for payroll and other business expenses incurred by his trucking company. Fayne denied using any of the funds for personal expenses. According to court documents, during the initial investigation, federal officials seized the following proceeds of the alleged fraud:
- $617,000 seized from seven bank accounts;
- $136,000 used as a down payment on the 2019 Rolls-Royce;
- $79,482 in cash seized at Fayne’s residence;
- eight Kenworth T-680 trucks;
- six Great Dane refrigerated trailers;
- a $3,750 diamond ring;
- a $24,500 diamond bracelet; and
- a $52,000 Rolex watch.
“The emergency lending provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program were intended to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Fayne allegedly used PPP loan proceeds to live a luxurious lifestyle that included leasing a Rolls Royce and purchasing expensive jewelry, as well as making payments to individuals involved in a Ponzi scheme. We intend to investigate and charge anyone who inappropriately diverts these critical funds for personal gain.”
“Despite the difficult times the recent Coronavirus pandemic has caused, the FBI and our federal partners continue to be vigilant in making sure funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We won’t allow anyone’s personal greed to misdirect federal emergency assistance to their own pockets, rather than go to the businesses who need it to stay afloat.”