Bolivar County woman arrested for COVID stimulus fraud

State / Regional

BOLIVAR COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – A Bolivar County woman has been arrested by agents from the State Auditor’s Office after she was indicted for fraud related to the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) “Back to Business” grant program. A $50,384.19 demand letter was presented to Ethel Cain upon arrest.

According to State Auditor Shad White, Cain used her company, Lifeline Financial Freedom Solutions, to fraudulently submit grant applications on behalf of other businesses to obtain the CARES Act stimulus funding administered by MDA. Her company allegedly submitted multiple grant applications for the same company.

Cain’s company is also purported to have knowingly submitted grant applications for ineligible businesses. Special Agents identified $38,500 in grant payments made as a result of this purported fraud.

Representatives from MDA and Balch & Bingham LLP reported Lifeline Financial Freedom Solutions to the Auditor’s office after denying several grant applications submitted by the company. Cain submitted nearly $400,000 worth of potentially fraudulent grant applications, the vast majority of which were denied.

“This is my office’s first case arresting someone for COVID stimulus fraud,” said White. “Others out there thinking of stealing stimulus funds should know: it doesn’t have to be our last.”

Cain turned herself in at the Bolivar County Sheriff’s office on Monday, October 4. Her bond will be set by the court. She faces up to 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted on all charges.

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