Little Rock woman charged with stealing close to $2 million in COVID relief money

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) —A Little Rock woman was arrested this afternoon based on allegations she fraudulently obtained nearly $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans intended to provide relief for small businesses affected by COVID-19. Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, announced today the indictment of Ganell Tubbs, 41.

The indictment alleges that Tubbs purported to own two businesses: The Little Piglet Soap Company, LLC, and Suga Girl Customs, LLC. According to the Arkansas Secretary of State, neither business is in good standing, and both businesses list Tubbs’ residence and personal phone number as the business contact information.

On April 30, 2020, according to the indictment, Tubbs submitted a PPP application representing that Suga Girl Customs had paid $1,385,903 in wages and compensation during the first quarter of 2020. She was approved for a PPP loan of $1,518,887 and received the funds on May 5, 2020, but the indictment states that two days later, she used the proceeds to make an $8,000 payment on her personal student loan. The following week, according to the indictment, Tubbs spent approximately $6,000 in online purchases at retailers including Apple, Michael Kors, Sephora, Northface, Nike, and others.

Similarly, on May 5, 2020, Tubbs submitted another PPP application, this time regarding The Little Piglet Soap Company. Based on the representations she made in the loan application, which the indictment alleges are not true, The Little Piglet Soap Company received a PPP loan for $414,375.

“These loans are meant to help small business owners who have suffered economically due to COVID-19 shutdowns,” stated U.S. Attorney Hiland. “Hardworking Arkansans are at their best when they are free to keep their businesses open during this challenging time, and we will be diligent in investigating and prosecuting those who take advantage of these critical funds.”

The indictment, which was returned by a grand jury on July 7, 2020, charges Tubbs with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making a false statement on a loan application, and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction with proceeds of unlawful activity.

“Numerous businesses across Arkansas are struggling to remain open during this COVID-19 pandemic, so our office has zero tolerance for anyone who fraudulently misuses federal funds intended to help companies weather this tough time,” said FBI SAC Upchurch. “Alongside our federal and state partners, we will remain vigilant against fraudsters and ensure that PPP funds are used as intended.”

Tubbs appeared this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas Ray and was released on bond. The FBI, the Small Business Administration – Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Pat Harris and Jamie Dempsey are prosecuting the case.

An indictment only contains allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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