Starkville man charged with more than $6M in COVID-relief fraud

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – A Starkville man was arrested Thursday by FBI Special Agents after being indicted by a federal grand jury on criminal charges related to his alleged fraud scheme exceeding $6 million in federal COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

According to court documents, Christopher P. Lick, 45, created a scheme to defraud and obtain PPP funds. He allegedly filed false and fraudulent loan applications with banks providing loans as part of PPP, including Customers Bank and Cross River Bank.

Investigators said Lick overstated the number of employees and payroll expenses of his purported businesses to receive the funds. He allegedly used the funds to buy luxury items for his personal use, including a home valued at more than $1 million and a Tesla valued at nearly $100,000. Lick is also accused of using the PPP funds to invest in the stock market.

Lick has been charged with four counts of wire fraud, one count of false statements to a financial institution, and eleven counts of money laundering. He is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison.

The FBI’s Oxford Resident Agency is investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Levy is prosecuting the case.

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