Miami Influencer Headed To Prison Over COVID PPP Fraud

A prominent Miami real estate agent and influencer is headed to prison after being convicted for using COVID PPP funding for several luxury items. Daniela Rendon was accused of acquiring a Bentley, a luxury apartment and even plastic surgery with the government relief money.

She received $381,000 through Washington’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, according to prosecutors.

These funds were allegedly procured by submitting false revenue statements, nonexistent employees and fictitious payroll figures for her business. Rendon was then accused of submitting false IRS tax documents.

According to USA today, she listed family members and friends as her employees to qualify for checks.

Rendon also reportedly wrote a 30-page piece on the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Incredibly, she included her plan to start non-profit groups to provide assistance to those affected by the disease and subsequent lockdowns.

The 31-year-old admitted in court on Thursday that she was “motivated by insatiable greed.” However, Rendon explained that everyone else was doing it then.

The mother of three told the federal court in Miami, “Looking back, it becomes all too tempting to utter the words ‘everybody was doing it’ as a feeble attempt to rationalize my actions.”

She said it was her “foolish” conviction that victims of her crimes were merely “faceless entities of the U.S. government.”

Rendon was sentenced last week to three-and-a-half years in prison. She pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud in April after prosecutors agreed to drop six other wire fraud counts along with charges of money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Judge K. Michael Moore expressed appreciation for Rendon’s contrition and gave her the minimum sentence. She could have received up to 20 years behind bars for wire fraud, even though her lawyers request five years of probation.

He told the defendant that it is not always easy to see that the stolen money is being taken from friends and neighbors. “It’s their money that goes to the Treasury that makes it possible to have these kinds of programs.”

The federal government, with precious little oversight, poured vast sums into the economy in the early days of the pandemic seeking to keep the economy afloat.

The race is now on to recover an estimated $200 billion squandered through fraud.

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