Brooklyn woman pleads guilty to multi-faceted COVID-19 fraud scheme | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TATIANA DANIEL pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. DANIEL participated in a scheme to commit fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic by (1) defrauding New York City’s COVID-19 Hotel Room Isolation Program; (2) sell fabricated COVID-19 test results, both positive and negative; (3) commit unemployment benefit fraud; and (4) obtaining fraudulent COVID-19 loans from the United States Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and Economic Disaster Loan Program (“EIDL”). United. DANIEL pleaded guilty before the American magistrate Ona T. Wang. DANIEL’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

US Attorney Damian Williams said: ‘As she admitted today, Tatiana Daniel has repeatedly taken advantage of resources available to help people and businesses in crisis. Daniel’s misconduct included selling fabricated COVID-19 test results, which likely put members of the public at risk of contracting the deadly virus from one of Daniel’s clients. Daniel now faces a prison sentence for his illegal and dangerous actions.

According to the allegations contained in the replacement information, court filings and statements made during the plea proceedings:

From March 2020 to September 2021, DANIEL conspired to commit fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic through various means.

First, DANIEL defrauded the COVID-19 Hotel Room Isolation Program (the “Program”). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City created the program. Funded by the City of New York and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the program provided free hotel rooms to eligible people throughout New York City. The program was open to (a) healthcare workers who had to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19; (b) patients who had tested positive for COVID-19; (c) persons who believed, based on their symptoms, that they were infected with COVID-19; and (d) people who lived with someone who had COVID-19. As noted on the City’s website describing the program, these people “may qualify to self-isolate at a hotel for up to 14 days for free if you don’t have a safe place to self-isolate.” Those wishing to book a hotel room through the program could either call a phone number or use an online hotel booking platform.

DANIEL defrauded the program in at least two ways. First, she got free hotel rooms through the program by falsely claiming to be a healthcare worker, specifically a respiratory therapist. Second, it sold at least approximately 144 nights of fraudulently obtained hotel rooms to customers who did not qualify for the program. As part of this scheme, DANIEL used Facebook to advertise the sale of program hotel rooms, to communicate directly with potential purchasers of program hotel rooms, and to communicate with a co-accused who worked at a calls who handled phone calls and some reservations. for the program for several months in 2020. For example, at one point, DANIEL wrote to his co-accused: “We need to move this bitch, they keep asking for employee ID. »

Second, DANIEL operated a fraudulent document factory, through which DANIEL sold, among other things, fabricated COVID-19 test results, positive and negative, in July and August 2021. These fabricated test results included the names of alleged members medical personnel and contained spelling errors (for example” positive “).

Third, between May 2021 and September 2021, DANIEL submitted fraudulent applications for COVID-19 loans, through the PPP and EIDL programs, resulting in the disbursement of thousands of dollars in pandemic loan funding to DANIEL and a co-conspirator.

Fourth, between March 2020 and September 2021, DANIEL conspired to fraudulently obtain more than approximately $97,000 in New York State unemployment benefits for herself and others. She did this by misrepresenting herself, impersonating more than 10 people, and collecting unemployment benefits paid to benefit those people. Additionally, DANIEL filed unsuccessful claims for unemployment benefits in other states.

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DANIEL, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Under the terms of his plea agreement, DANIEL agreed to forfeit $109,655 and pay restitution of $401,206.

The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. DANIEL is due to be sentenced by Judge Kaplan on March 29, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.

DANIEL’s three co-defendants are currently scheduled to stand trial before Judge Kaplan on January 17, 2023.

Mr. Williams commended the exceptional efforts of officers, investigators and analysts from the New York City Department of Investigation, New York Regional Office of the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General (“DOL- OIG”) and the United States. New York Southern District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Williams also thanked intelligence analysts from the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area for their support and assistance in this investigation. He also expressed his gratitude to the New York City Police Department, the New York State Department of Labor and the Atlanta Regional Office of the DOL-OIG for their assistance.

This case is being handled by the Bureau’s Complex Fraud and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant US Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the prosecution.

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