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Woman charged with fraudulently applying for over $1M in coronavirus-relief funds

Updated August 13, 2020 - 12:21 pm

A Las Vegas woman has been charged by federal authorities with fraudulently seeking over $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office states that Karen Chapon, also known as Karen Hannafious, 50, is charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution.

“The complaint alleges that, in support of her six fraudulent loan applications, Chapon made numerous false and misleading statements about her companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses, and falsely denied that she had been convicted of a felony in the past five years,” the statement said.

Authorities said Chapon submitted fake and altered documents and fraudulent federal tax filings in applying for the loans. This included misrepresenting to a lender that, in 2019, her company Heavenly Tahoe Properties paid several million dollars in employee wages.

“In support of Chapon’s loan application, she submitted a fraudulent IRS filing that appeared to be Heavenly Tahoe Properties’ 2019 Form 940 federal unemployment tax return showing that the company paid nearly $2.5 million in employee wages that year,” the statement said. “In reality, the IRS has no record of the company filing any 2019 tax returns, and publicly available records show that the company’s Nevada corporate registration is no longer valid.”

Authorities said the government has recovered almost all of the nearly $600,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans that Chapon obtained, as well as a Mercedes-Benz SUV.

The loans were accessible under the coronavirus relief bill, which offered emergency financial assistance, including forgivable loans to small businesses.

This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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