MIAMI — Daniela Rendon, 31, of Miami made her appearance in federal magistrate court today and was charged with fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief loans and grants under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Relief Program.
According to the indictment, Rendon submitted fraudulent applications seeking COVID-19 relief funds from the Small Business Administration and PPP. She is alleged to have falsified her revenue and payroll and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms. According to the charges, Rendon received approximately $381,000 in fraudulent funds. To disburse the funds, she is alleged to have enrolled with a payroll processor to issue fraudulent payroll checks to herself, family members, and friends. She is alleged to have used the fraudulently obtained funds to lease a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, rent a luxury Biscayne Bay apartment, pay for cosmetic dermatology procedures, and refinish her designer shoes.
The indictment charges Rendon with seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe and acting Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Buckley, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami, made the announcement.
HSI Miami investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Bailyn is prosecuting it.
An indictment is a mere allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
On September 15, 2022, the Attorney General selected the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office to head one of three national COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams. The Department of Justice established the Strike Force to enhance existing efforts to combat and prevent COVID-19 related financial fraud. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please click here.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov under case no. 22-cr-20036.