From Luxury Hotels to Prison Cells

Hacking and criminal concept.A hacker in a secret hiding place is neon light.

Danielle Miller of Miami, 31, Fla., has been indicted for allegedly lying on her pandemic-related loan applications so she could obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Then, she used the ill-gotten funds to pay for personal expenses. (In other words, she was living the high life at the expense of the U.S. Government and honest taxpayers, then flaunted it on social media.)

According to charging documents, between July 2020 and May 2021, Miller allegedly plotted and carried out a scheme that aimed to collect pandemic-related relief loans meant for people and small businesses negatively impacted by the virus. Miller allegedly used the identifying information of five people and counterfeit driver’s licenses that listed the stolen names, but pictured Miller’s photograph.

Miller opened bank accounts and applied for over $900,000 in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans using the stolen personal information. She also purportedly used these identities to apply for PUA benefits.

Here’s where the scheme took an unfortunate turn for Miller. According to court documents, the Floridian remained active on social media, where she had 34,000 followers as witnesses to her travel adventures. Instagram posts showed Miller at luxury hotels throughout California. (If convicted, Miller’s luxury hotel stays are bound to make her transition to prison cells more difficult.)

At these luxury locations, Miller supposedly used her victims’ fictitious bank accounts to complete her transactions. One post pictured Miller with a geotag to the Petit Ermitage hotel. (Narcissism tends to be a common trait amongst fraudsters.) Prior to her post, $5,500 was charged by the Petit Ermitage hotel to one of the bank accounts. (Covering tracks is definitely not Miller’s area of criminal expertise.)

A criminal complaint was filed on May 11, 2021, leading to Miller’s arrest. (One of the five victim’s must have noticed the fraudulent transactions.) She has since been indicted on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Miller could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud charge with three years of supervised release to follow. A $250,000 fine may also be charged. Each charge of aggravated identity theft could result in a two-year prison sentence followed by one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Miami Woman Indicted for Wire Fraud and Identity Theft Related to COVID-19 Pandemic,” dated July 28, 2021.

BOSTON – A Miami woman was indicted yesterday in connection with allegedly filing for and obtaining fraudulent pandemic-related loans and using those funds for personal expenses.

Danielle Miller, 31, was indicted on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Miller was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 11, 2021.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.