Miami woman arrested for wire fraud arising from small business pandemic relief loan in Massachusetts

Crime

BOSTON (USDOJ) – A Miami woman was arrested Tuesday in connection with allegedly filing and obtaining fraudulent pandemic-related loans and using those funds for personal expenses.

Danielle Miller, 31, of Miami, Fla., was arrested and charged Tuesday in a criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud. Miller will appear in U.S. District Court in Miami Wednesday and will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Boston at a later date.

According to the complaint, Miller allegedly accessed the online Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) account associated with a Massachusetts resident and then used that victim’s personal identifying information to open a bank account and to apply for a federally-funded Economic Injury Disaster loan (EIDL) through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In August 2020, more than $102,000 in SBA loan proceeds were deposited into that account. 

After receipt of these fraudulent loan proceeds, Miller allegedly used the bank account in the victim’s name to book a private flight from Florida to California, using a counterfeit Massachusetts driver’s license in the victim’s name but bearing Miller’s photograph, and conducted ATM transactions using the bank account in the victim’s name. 

As alleged in court documents, Miller maintains an active social media presence via her Instagram account, which has more than 34,000 followers. Posts to this account include a post showing Miller at various luxury hotels in California where transactions were made using the bank account in the victim’s name. For example, the luxury hotel Petit Ermitage allegedly posted a $5,500 charge to this bank account in September 2020, a few days after Miller’s Instagram account posted a photo of Miller that was geotagged to the Petit Ermitage.

It is alleged that the same IP address used to apply for the fraudulent SBA loan was also used to access the online RMV accounts of other individuals and to apply for more than $900,000 in SBA loans under those other identities.

The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

The investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security’s Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a specialized field investigative group comprised of personnel from various local, state, and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring, and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity, and benefit fraud schemes.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston made the announcement Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Abely, Chief of Mendell’s Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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