Semaj Portis registered a company called Forever Riding with the Missouri Secretary of state. The name of the business suggests a business of activity such as riding bike or riding horse. For Portis it meant riding out the opportunities to commit fraud with COVID-19 funds.
Portis registered Forever Riding as a “housing” business with the Missouri Secretary of State on January 15, 2021. Immediately after, Portis submitted 52 fraudulent applications for rent assistance to the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which administered COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grants. These grants were designed to help both landlords and their financially struggling tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Portis listed herself has the landlord of the supposed rentals of Forever Riding and submitted fraudulent rental leases with her applications to receive rent assistance. But not even one of those applications were legitimate. You can’t be a landlord without property to rent and Portis didn’t own any property listed in the applications. Regardless, her emergency rental assistance applications were accepted, and she received a total of $267,239 in fraudulent funds.
Portis did become a property owner later however, purchasing a home with the funds. Too bad that property won’t be there when she completes her one year and a day in prison sentencing. She was ordered to repay the $267,239 which will include the property.
Kudos to the Secret Service and the FBI who investigated this case together.
Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Woman got $267K in pandemic rental aid — and paid for vacations, real estate, feds say” published by The News & Observer on October 25, 2022.
A Missouri woman submitted 52 fraudulent applications seeking rent assistance for her and her “tenants” during the COVID-19 pandemic — and received $267,239 through her scam, according to federal authorities. Now Semaj Portis, of St. Louis County, has been sentenced to one year and a day in prison. She’s also ordered to repay the money she fraudulently received, according to an Oct. 7 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Authorities said the scheme began in January 2021, when Portis registered a company called Forever Riding as a nonprofit organization in Missouri. She listed herself as the incorporator and registered agent, according to court records.