NEWPORT NEWS — A local couple pled guilty in federal court to millions of dollars in pandemic loan fraud.
According to the office of United States Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica D. Aber, Malik Mitchum, 26, and his wife, Jenna, both of Hampton, conspired together to obtain disaster-related loan benefits from the Small Business Association (SBA), which were sponsored Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
The loans, which were established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, were meant to assistance to small businesses whose expenses were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mitchums claimed that they were the owners of five small businesses that were struggling. Between March 2020 and May 2021, the couple filed at least 19 fraudulent applications in order to obtain EIDL and PPP loans.
However, the Mitchums did not actually own any small businesses. Malik was a junior enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force and Jenna Mitchum was considered unemployed.
Aber’s office reports that the Mitchums were linked to more than 20 other fraudulent loan applications by the internet protocol (IP) addressed used for submission of applications or for wire transfers.
All told, the couple intended to defraud the government out of more than $5.1 million.
The Mitchums spent most of the fraud proceeds in obtaining luxury items, which included a Rolex watch that cost $38,743.
On January 12, Aber’s office reported that the Mitchums pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. As a result, both Malik and Jenna Mitchum face a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for July 29.