Mashama Ferdinand, 38, was sentenced Friday to 33 months in prison for wire fraud, along with $383,397 in restitution. She was remanded Monday to the custody of U.S. Marshals and, upon the completion of her sentence, will also serve four years of supervised release.
According to court documents, Ferdinand filed a Paycheck Protection Program loan application in July of 2022 on behalf of her company, Shama’s Specialties. The application claimed that Ferdinand had 15 employees and earned a quarterly payroll of $460,079. In a news release Monday, U.S. Gretchen Shappert said that Ferdinand electronically submitted her loan application to Bluevine, Inc. and, hours later, it was approved in the amount of $383,397.
“Bluevine’s computer records revealed that Shama’s Specialties application package was processed by unnamed co-conspirators in Apopka, Florida. Thereafter, on Aug. 3, 2020, Bluevine deposited the loan proceeds in the amount of $383,397 in Shama’s Specialties’ First Bank Virgin Islands’ checking account,” according to the release.
Three separate payments in the amount of $9,999 were wired two days later to three alleged co-conspirators for their help in processing the loan application, Shappert added. Ferdinand also used $50,000 of the loan proceeds to pay a business partner in return for his investment in Shama’s Specialties. A month later, Ferdinand spent approximately $12,000 on dental veneers and another $3,000 to pay off an American Express business card, the release said.
“As of the date of sentencing, Ferdinand reported having less than $10,000 of the PPP loan proceeds remaining,” Shappert said in Monday’s statement.” Records obtained from the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue confirmed that during 2019 and 2020, the period in which PPP loans were offered, no 501-VI nor 941-VI payroll records were filed on behalf of Shama’s Specialties.”
Ferdinand applied for PPP funds on two prior occasions, receiving $85 the first time around. She was denied on her second application.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and Small Business Association Office of the Inspector General and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was intended to provide a lifeline to the nation’s small businesses and its employees,” said U.S. Small Business Administration Inspector General Michael H. Ware. “Our office will remain relentless in the pursuit of fraudsters who seek to exploit SBA’s vital economic programs. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and commitment to seeing justice served.”