COVID relief funds were intended to ease the massive financial strain that lockdowns imposed on businesses, but some opportunists saw it as a way to game the system.
Instagram influencer Danielle Miller, a 32-year-old woman who boasts over 34,000 followers, pleaded guilty on Monday to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Authorities say Miller managed to get her hands on nearly $1.5 million in relief funds by using fake names and fake businesses.
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“Miller posted her extravagant use of the fraud proceeds and stolen identities, publicizing her purchasing of luxury goods and renting of luxury accommodations,” read a US Attorney’s Office press release.
With the ill-gotten money, she set herself up for a life of luxury and even boldly posed with the items she had purchased with the funds including a private jet ride, a Rolls Royce and a Louis Vuitton bag.
The brazen fraudster shamelessly bragged about her lifestyle in a recent New York Magazine profile. “Honestly, I more so consider myself a con artist than anything,” she said in the piece which covered her stint in Rikers on a credit card scam charge. The same profile also covered additional allegations against the internet icon as well as a life of crime that led up to her current incarceration.
When asked by the interviewer how she even knew how to get into the world of scamming, Miller revealed just how simple the process truly is.
“I literally just researched on the internet. It was very readily available to me. No one taught me it. I just overheard some things while I was in Rikers Island,” she admitted. “And then I read everything on Telegram. Telegram is really where they talk about a lot of illegal shit.”
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Miller’s sentencing will take place on June 27. In exchange for her guilty plea, she agreed to give up $1.3M of the funds as well as serve six years in prison.
In October, Miller was sentenced in Florida to 5 years in a state prison in a separate fraud case where she attempted to withdraw $8,000 from a California woman’s bank account using a fake identification card.
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