Missouri woman pleads guilty to $100,000 pandemic loan fraud, faces 30 year prison sentence

Loan Fraud News Graphic

A woman from Florissant on Monday pleaded guilty to federal charges and admitted fraudulently obtaining two pandemic-era loans totaling more than $101,000.

Lakenya M. Hobbs, 40, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White to one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Hobbs admitted scheming to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided forgivable loans to small businesses to help them save jobs during the pandemic. The loans were based on payroll expenses and the number of employees, among other factors.

On March 12, 2021, Hobbs submitted a loan application to Banterra Bank containing false and fraudulent information that triggered the issuance of an $81, 223 check. Hobbs did not use the money to save jobs but instead at electronic stores and restaurants and for airfare. She also took some out in cash. On Oct. 1, 2021, she applied for loan forgiveness, falsely stating in the application that she’s used the PPP money for payroll. She was granted forgiveness.

On May 27, 2021, Hobbs submitted a loan application to Harvest Small Business Finance. She falsely inflated her gross income on the application and got a $20,344 loan. On Nov. 29, 2021, she applied to have her loan forgiven. She was also granted forgiveness for this loan.

At her sentencing on February 22, Hobbs could face up to 30 years in prison. She will also have to repay the money.

The case was investigated by the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.