Daniela Rendon, a glamorous real estate broker in Miami, Florida, allegedly splurged $381,000 in COVID relief funds on a Bentley, cosmetic surgery, designer shoes, a luxury apartment, and more and now finds herself facing federal fraud charges.
The 31-year-old real estate agent was the recipient of the money through the Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program, according to the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Instead of using the funds for what they were intended for, paying her employees during the pandemic, Rendon reportedly dispersed fake payroll funds to her friends and family for personal gain, according to the New York Post.
She allegedly spent a lot of the money on a 2021 Bentley Bentayga (which costs $181,000), rent on a lavish Biscayne Bay apartment, and for cosmetic surgery according to federal officials. The real estate agent also allegedly refurbished a pair of designer shoes with taxpayer money.
A glamorous Miami real estate broker is facing federal fraud raps after authorities said she used COVID-19 relief funds on a new Bentley, cosmetic procedures and a luxury apartment.
— lovelyti (@lovelyti) February 8, 2023
Rendon is now facing seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft after being indicted. If convicted, she could get up to 20 years in prison.
Miami Woman Charged for Using Fraudulent COVID-19 Relief Funds to Finance Lavish Lifestyle https://t.co/T5jPRlf5jl
— US Attorney SDFL (@SDFLnews) February 2, 2023
Since her arrest, her Instagram page has been taken down and other social media has been made private. Pictures on Instagram showed her posing in a number of high-end settings in Miami and other places.
During Rendon’s arraignment last week, prosecutors argued that she was a flight risk because she is a Colombian native. Her attorney contested that claim, according to the Miami Herald.
A judge set bail at $150,000. The mother of three is vowing to fight the charges against her.
Prosecutors are charging that as part of her scheme, Rendon allegedly falsified documents related to her real estate business so she could qualify for the PPP fund. She purportedly fudged her annual revenue, payroll, costs of products, IRS tax information, and the number of employees she had. She then submitted the fabricated reports to lenders in both New Jersey and Idaho, according to the Miami Herald.
After receiving the loan payments, she allegedly funneled them to herself and to those closest to her, according to federal prosecutors. They accuse her of using a New Jersey payroll processor to process the loans she received through her corporate bank account. She would then issue the checks to family and friends.
“She did not go for a Lambo, as so many often do. Daniela Rendon instead got a Bentley. But the feds still noticed her flashy ride. Now the Miami woman is in custody — accused of stealing $381,000 from the federal government’s COVID-19 loan programs intended for businesses.” pic.twitter.com/xgqQuqUCGp
— Michael (@JaMtoka) February 5, 2023
Rendon branded herself as an “Ultra Luxury” real estate agent who curates high-end apartments on LinkedIn. Her page has been taken down.
Born in Colombia, she earned a degree as a nurse at Miami Dade College before briefly working in the cosmetic surgery industry as a Surgery Coordinator in 2014. By 2017, she had transitioned to the real estate sector.
Rendon joins a long list of others who have abused the COVID-19 loan program that was originally intended to help small businesses struggling to survive during the pandemic. The $813 billion government relief program has been the target of many fraudsters.
One such example is a Florida pastor and his son who were arrested in December for using funds from a PPP loan that was intended to go to their church. Instead, they bought a luxury $3.7 million mansion on Disney World property, according to the New York Post.
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