A Charlotte woman went on shopping sprees, booked hotel stays and bought cars with federal COVID-19 relief money she lied to obtain, federal prosecutors said.

Nkhenge Shropshire and unnamed suspects in her scheme made up information on at least 10 applications for the Economic Disaster Relief Loans program, according to a grand jury indictment Thursday that charged the 48-year-old Shropshire with wire fraud conspiracy.

Shropshire and her co-conspirators used fake business names and other false information on their applications to the Small Business Administration from July to September 2020, U.S. Attorney Dena King said in a news release.

The group tried to get at least $331,000 from the SBA, which paid at least $45,000 to Shropshire and the others before investigators unraveled the scheme, court records show.

Shropshire and her lawyer, Steven Meier, couldn’t immediately be reached by The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday. Prosecutors said she’s in federal custody pending an initial court appearance. Her court date hasn’t been announced.

In 2014, Shropshire was convicted of filing false tax returns and lying on a loan application, according to court documents.

She was sentenced to nearly three years in prison and five years of supervised release, court records show.

Prosecutors said Shropshire was still on federal supervised release when she submitted the SBA loan applications.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlotte hasn’t said when others involved in the scam will be charged.

Report suspected COVID fraud

Complaints about possible COVID fraud can be filed to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or file an online complaint at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.

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