Delta Business Owner Arrested for COVID Fraud, White Warns Others | New
A Delta business owner has been arrested for fraud after being accused of illegally obtaining COVID stimulus money, State Auditor Shad White said.
Ethel Cain was charged with fraud related to the Mississippi Development Authority’s “Back to Business” grant program after receiving $ 38,500 in illegal grant payments. A formal notice of $ 50,384.19 was presented to Cain upon his arrest. This amount includes interest and investigation costs.
She is accused of using her company, Lifeline Financial Freedom Solutions, to fraudulently submit grant applications on behalf of other companies in order to obtain the CARES Act stimulus funding administered by MDA. She has submitted multiple grant applications for the same company on multiple occasions, according to the indictment. Cain’s company is also believed to have knowingly submitted grant applications for ineligible companies.
Representatives from MDA and Balch & Bingham LLP reported Lifeline Financial Freedom Solutions to the auditor’s office after refusing several grant applications submitted by the company. Cain submitted nearly $ 400,000 in potentially fraudulent grant applications, the majority of which were turned down.
“This is the first case in my office arresting someone for COVID stimulus fraud,” said White, a Sandersville native. “Others who are considering stealing stimulus money should know this – it shouldn’t be our last. “
Cain went to the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office. She faces up to 15 years in prison and a $ 30,000 fine if convicted on all counts. Anyone arrested by the Mississippi Office of the Auditor General is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court. The case will be prosecuted by the Mississippi attorney general’s office.
No bond covers Cain’s alleged ploy. Bonds are akin to insurance designed to protect taxpayers in the event of misuse of public funds.
Cain will remain responsible for the full amount of the claim in addition to the criminal charges against her. Suspicions of fraud can be reported at any time by clicking on the red button “Report fraud” on www.osa.ms.gov or by phone during regular business hours by dialing 1- (800) -321-1275.