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Press Release

Nevada Resident Pleads Guilty To COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nevada

LAS VEGAS – A Nevada woman pleaded guilty Monday to fraudulently seeking over $1 million in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

According to court documents, Karen Chapon, aka Karen Hannafious, 53, submitted six fraudulent PPP loan applications to three financial institutions for her companies. From April 2020 to July 2020, Chapon made multiple false statements about her companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses, and submitted false documents to support the loan applications, including false federal tax filings. As part of the 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.    

Chapon pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan scheduled sentencing for November 29, 2023. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison, a five-year term of supervised release, restitution, and a fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada; Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI; Inspector General J. Russell George 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. Trial Attorneys Lucy Jennings and Jennifer Bilinkas of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Oliva of the District of Nevada are prosecuting 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 August 30, 2023

Financial Fraud