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'Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta' star Maurice 'Mo' Fayne sentenced to 17 years for pandemic fraud scheme

Fayne, who appeared on several episodes of the popular reality show, ran a multistate Ponzi scheme from March 2013 to May 2020, then filed for a fraudulent loan to cover repayments, prosecutors said.
Maurice \"Mo\" Fayne attends a party in Atlanta on July 18, 2018.
Maurice "Mo" Fayne attends a party in Atlanta on July 18, 2018.Paras Griffin / Getty Images file

A star of VH1's "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison after applying for a loan meant for businesses struggling during the pandemic to cover expenses from a long-running Ponzi scheme, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Maurice “Mo” Fayne, 38, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy and wire fraud related to the Ponzi scheme and bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution in relation to lying to get a business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia.

“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “The funds the program supplies serve as a lifeline to many businesses desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, and unfortunately his fraud helped deplete those precious dollars.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office statement said that Fayne had run a multistate Ponzi scheme from March 2013 to May 2020, and defrauded more than 20 people who invested in his trucking business.

He told investors that he would use their money to operate the business but instead used it to pay his own personal debts and fund an "extravagant lifestyle," including spending $5 million at an Oklahoma casino on one occasion, the statement said.

In April of last year, Fayne submitted a $3.7 million PPP loan application, falsely claiming that the trucking business had 107 employees and a monthly payroll of $1,490,200.

The funds from the loan were supposed to be used to "retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments related to his trucking business," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Instead Fayne used the funds to start a new business in Arkansas, pay associates who helped him run the Ponzi scheme and pay past-due child support, prosecutors said. He also paid money owed from a previous fraud case and spent $85,000 on custom-made jewelry.

In addition to 17 1/2 years in prison, Fayne was sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of nearly $4.5 million to his victims.

“This sentence should serve notice that the FBI and our federal partners will investigate anyone who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for businesses who need it to stay afloat,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We won’t tolerate anyone driven by personal greed to pocket American taxpayer money that should be going to those who need it.”

Fayne, who also goes by Arkansas Mo, appeared on several episodes of "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" as the love interest of Karlie Redd, one of the popular reality show's longtime cast members.