‘Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta’ star sentenced to 17 years for fraud

Maurice Fayne, who starred in "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta," has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Maurice Fayne, who starred in "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta," has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison.

A “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” star has been sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for both a Ponzi scheme and taking millions intended for business owners during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Maurice Fayne, who goes by the name Arkansas Mo on the VH1 show, ran a multistate scheme that defrauded more than 20 people from March 2013 through May 2020, according to investigators. Fayne, 38, who lives in Dacula, promised he would use the investors’ money to operate a trucking business.

Instead, he used the money to pay off his personal debts and expenses and to fund an extravagant lifestyle. During a trip to a casino in Oklahoma, Fayne spent more than $5 million, prosecutors said.

Then in April 2020, Fayne applied for a $3.7 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. Investigators said Fayne claimed that his trucking business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200.

“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said in an emailed statement. “The funds the program supplies serve as a lifeline to many businesses desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, and unfortunately his fraud helped deplete those precious dollars.”

Fayne promised to use the PPP loan proceeds for his payroll or to make mortgage interest payments, lease payments and utility payments related to his business. But he used the loan money for improper purposes, including $907,000 to start a new business in Arkansas, $230,000 to associates who helped him run a Ponzi scheme, and $136,000 to lease a Rolls-Royce, federal investigators said.

Fayne also spent $85,000 on custom jewelry, made $65,000 in cash withdrawals and used $40,000 for past-due child support, investigators said.

In May 2020, Fayne was charged with fraud, and additional charges were later added. He pleaded guilty on May 11 of this year.

In addition to a sentence of 17 years and six months, Fayne was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,465,865.55 to the victims.

“This sentence should serve notice that the FBI and our federal partners will investigate anyone who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for businesses who need it to stay afloat,” Chris Hacker, special agent of FBI Atlanta, said in an emailed statement. “We won’t tolerate anyone driven by personal greed to pocket American taxpayer money that should be going to those who need it.”