Is there any facet of the COVID-19 CARES Act that was impenetrable to fraudsters? Not to Paradise Williams. Williams frauded them all! In her plea agreement, Williams admitted that from June 2020 to February 2022, she personally participated in the submission of over 125 fraudulent applications for the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds administered by King County, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment benefits. An overachiever according to federal prosecutors.
William’s piece de resistance was the Rental Assistance Fund. She enlisted dozens of associates in defrauding particularly the rental assistance programs of more than $3.3 million by posing as fake tenants, landlords, and small business owners in need of assistance. Williams helped to create the fake documents and guided the other defendants in how to act as both landlords and tenants in order to fraudulently claim rental assistance funds. Fake it till you make it. Each accomplice is said to have received tens of thousands of dollars for each fake application that they filed. At least 35 applications were submitted.
Upon receipt of the illegal funds, Williams and her associates methodically laundered the funds through cash withdrawals, wire transfers, and expensive personal purchases such as cars, lavish trips, cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and designer goods. Williams also received more than $1.2 million in kickback payments from her associates for facilitating the fraudulent submissions. A fraudster’s fee for the chance to fraud. And guaranteed prison time. Sentencing will be in February of 2024.
Great job by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on “Ringleader pleads guilty in major King County rental assistance fraud case” published by KRO 7 News on December 11, 2023
The ringleader of a pandemic assistance fraud scheme in King County and across the country pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges in which the six associates attempted to steal more than $6.8 million.
Federal prosecutors call it one of the country’s most prolific rental assistance fraud cases, with the culprits facing a 26-count indictment in court in June. The alleged ringleader, 29-year-old Paradise Williams, helped to create fake documents and guided the other defendants in how to commit fraud as landlords and tenants to claim rental assistance.