Benton woman charged with money laundering under COVID-19 PPP loan program

The US Department of Justice arrested a 64-year-old woman from Benton, Tennessee on Monday. Donna Clark Sr. has been charged with an indictment accusing her of wire fraud, money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transfer business, which the Justice Department called of “money mule” operation.

Money mules are people who transfer illegally acquired money on behalf of someone else. They move funds in a variety of ways, including through bank accounts, cashier’s checks, virtual currency, prepaid debit cards, or money-service businesses.

According to court documents, Clark was involved in a scheme from October 2020 to July 2021 in which she received, deposited, transferred and transmitted money obtained through fraudulent schemes – including fraud related to receiving d ” a PPP loan linked to COVID-19.

The Justice Department said the scheme was designed to “add layers to the money trail from victims to criminal actors” for whom it laundered money.

Clark has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial has been set for October 5, before Judge Charles E. Atchley Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

Clark faces a sentence of up to 30 years in jail for the wire fraud count, up to 10 years in jail for the county money laundering and up to five years in jail for exploiting a unlicensed money transfer business, as well as large fines, return and confiscation of property.

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 Control hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the form online complaint hotline at justice.gov/coronavirus.

Contact Kelcey Caulder at [email protected] or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.

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