KSLA INVESTIGATES: U.S. attorney continues to prosecute PPP loan fraud in northwest La.

Janola Massaquoi was convicted for making false statements to a federal agency in connection with an application for a CARES Act loan.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Tuesday, Aug. 15 is the deadline for a former beauty school owner to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Janola Massaquoi must turn herself in by 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Massaquoi was convicted for making false statements to a federal agency in connection with an application for a CARES Act loan. She received more than $700,000 in funding. Federal prosecutors say she used $250,000 for a down payment on the purchase of a home, mortgage payments, and payments to friends and family, as well as padding her retirement and personal investment accounts. She’s expected to serve a year in prison and pay $250,000 in restitution. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana continues to crack down on these fraudsters.

In July, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Brandon Brown announced 24 people were indicted on CARES Act fraud. In a interview with KSLA, he promised he’s not done.

“We got great feedback from our community and great feedback out of Washington and we are not done. I promise you we are not done,” Brown said.

While the latest indictments for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) fraud are allegedly connected to criminal activity, Brown says criminals are getting smarter in the way they fund their activities.

″Drug cases, they will get craftier on how they clean their money,” Brown said.

And then there are those who fraudulently received PPP money while being motivated by greed.

“We had individuals who claim they had cattle farms, pig farms, beauty salons out of their house, you name it,” said Brown.

Brown says he has a team of prosecutors combing through records; the goal is to reclaim the government’s money.

“They never had employees in-house, looking at bank statements and refer to criminal or civil division. We are on it. Wire fraud felony conviction...” said Brown.

He’s urging those who may have fraudulently obtained a loan to come forward before his office finds them. Brown says depending on your criminal history and the loan amount, his agency may be able to work something out, like repayment or taking it out of your tax refund.

“I would hope they can come forward and we go from there and if they don’t come forward, stay tuned,” Brown warned.

Brown says the PPP fraud has been widespread all across the country, and prosecutors are putting their heads together on how to attack the problem and recoup this money for the American taxpayer.