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Press Release

Kanawha County Woman Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Lydia Spencer, 33, of South Charleston, pleaded guilty on Friday, April 5, 2023, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Spencer admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of $31,250 in COVID-19 relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

According to court documents and statements made in court, Spencer was the sole proprietor of Les Prints, a custom clothing business that had its principal office in Charleston. Spencer admitted to conspiring with at least three other individuals in April 2021 to obtain fraudulent PPP loans for her business. The PPP offered forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, as part of the emergency financial assistance provided by the CARES Act to Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the co-conspirators recruited Spencer to participate in the scheme that spring, and Spencer provided her personal and bank account information to this individual. On April 8, 2021, another of the co-conspirators used Spencer’s information to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of Les Prints to two different lenders. Each lender approved a PPP loan for Les Prints. Spencer received a $15,625 transfer disbursed by one of the lenders on April 30, 2021, and a $15,625 transfer disbursed by the other lender on June 17, 2021. Both transfers were deposited in Spencer’s personal bank account with an Oklahoma-based bank.

Spencer admitted that the PPP loan applications contained materially false information. Businesses applying for PPP loans were required to provide documentation showing their prior gross income from either 2019 or 2020. Spencer admitted that the loan applications falsely stated that Les Prints had received $75,000 in gross income in 2020, and included a fraudulent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040, Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business reporting that false gross income. Spencer further admitted that this false information qualified Les Prints for a loan amount it otherwise would have not been qualified to receive.

Between May 3, 2021, and June 21, 2021, Spencer used a mobile payment service app to transfer a total of $4,000 from the fraudulent loan proceeds to one of the co-conspirators. Spencer admitted that she attempted to obscure the nature of these transfers by labeling them as marketing expenses for her business. Spencer further admitted that she spent the remainder of the fraudulent loan proceeds on personal expenses. Spencer also admitted that she was aware that her co-conspirators had obtained additional fraudulent PPP loans in the names of other individuals.

Spencer is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine. Spencer also owes at least $31,250 in restitution.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Holly Wilson is prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 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, among other methods, 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 (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:24-cr-53. 




Updated April 8, 2024