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Side Businesses Funded by Fraud

Side Businesses Funded by Fraud

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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Tatiana Daniel thought outside of the box when it came to defrauding the COVID-19 programs. Not only did she fraudulently receive over a half a million dollars in benefits, but she also made a side business from it! And she wasted no time starting it up. Daniel’s schemes began in March 2020, the very month the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Daniel’s first scheme targeted the New York City Isolation Program. The Isolation Program was created to quarantine health care workers and coronavirus patients at hotels during the height of the pandemic, with the city footing the bill for the hotel rooms. Daniel first pretended to be a respiratory therapist to secure free nights at hotel rooms. But she didn’t use the rooms for herself.  She rented them out using Facebook to generate business. According to court documents, she would post opportunities like  “Today I will be doing hotels from 2pm – 9pm. If you would like to book a hotel please comment below 300$ 1 month 250$20 days 150$ 10 days 100$ 3 days MUST BE CASH APP READY”.  $300 for one month is a pretty sweet deal but Daniel could afford to offer cheap rates since the rooms weren’t costing her anything!

Daniel’s teamed up with Chanette Lewis, who worked at the New York City Office of Emergency Management call center, which handled reservations for the rooms. The fraudsters booked more than 2,700 overnight stays, with the hotel rooms given to them for free under the Isolation Program costing the government more than $400,000.

In addition to the hustle at the hotel, Daniel also peddled phony COVID-19 test results during the summer of 2021 for people who wanted certain results from a COVID test. Both positive and negative results were forged, though Daniel misspelled positive as “postive.” You don’t need to be able to spell to be a fraudster!

Further, Daniel fraudulently obtained nearly $100,000 in unemployment benefits, applying to other states besides New York.  She also acquired thousands of dollars in pandemic loans which she clearly didn’t qualify for since her hotel rental business was thriving!

Daniel’s pled guilty on November 22, 2022 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 29, 2023.

Outstanding effort by the New York City Department of Investigation on this case.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Brooklyn woman scammed NYC out of free hotel rooms reserved for frontline pandemic workers” published by New York Daily News on November 22, 2022

A Brooklyn woman admitted Tuesday that she turned New York City’s hotel room program for COVID-19 frontline health care workers into an off-the-books lodging service.

Tatiana Daniel, 28, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and could face up to five years in prison.

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