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Press Release

Las Vegas Resident Sentenced To Prison For COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nevada
Defendant Ordered to Pay Nearly $600,000 in Restitution

LAS VEGAS – A Las Vegas woman was sentenced Wednesday by United States District Judge James C. Mahan to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for fraudulently seeking over $1 million in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

According to court documents, from April 2020 to July 2020, Karen Chapon, aka Karen Hannafious, made multiple false statements about her companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses, and submitted false documents to support six fraudulent PPP loan applications, including false federal tax filings. As part of the fraudulent loan applications, Chapon falsely stated that she had not been convicted of a felony in the past five years, but in fact, she pleaded guilty to felony fraud offenses in 2016. She received four loans totaling approximately $596,931. Chapon used fraudulently obtained funds for her own benefit, including the purchase of a Mercedes Benz SUV.

In August 2023, Chapon pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. In addition to the prison term, Chapon was ordered to pay $589,484.13 in restitution.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted March 29, 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.

United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI; Acting Inspector General Heather M. Hill for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); and Special Agent in Charge Weston King for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Western Region made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI, TIGTA, and SBA OIG. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Oliva and Trial Attorneys Lucy Jennings and Jennifer Bilinkas of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case.

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

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Updated March 22, 2024

Financial Fraud