Woman previously convicted in fraud scheme admits defrauding Federal Housing Administration, COVID relief programs for businesses and unemployment | USAO-RI
PROVIDENCE – A North Providence woman admitted in federal court today that she provided false information to a mortgage lender when applying for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgage, and that she had fraudulently applied for a COVID Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) and unemployment insurance benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Relief Act, Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security (CARES), U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced.
Juliana Martins, 53, who was at large under federal supervision at the time of the fraudulent activities charged, pleaded guilty to misrepresentation on a loan application and theft of government property. She is expected to be sentenced on August 4, 2022.
At the time of her guilty plea, Martins admitted in court that while she was out on federal supervision for her role in a stolen identity reimbursement program, as well as on state probation for a conviction without in 2014 for forgery and counterfeiting, she applied for an FHA guaranteed loan. As part of the application process, she provided false explanations for her employment shortcomings while serving her federal sentence, claiming she was unemployed due to a “family emergency.” Martins also failed to disclose the fact that she was the subject of a federal restitution order of $385,533.
As a result of the application, Martins and a co-borrower secured an FHA-insured mortgage for $265,109.
Additionally, Martins admitted that in July 2020, she submitted a fraudulent application for a low-interest Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the Small Business Administration (SBA), falsely claiming that she was an independent entrepreneur in the health services industry, and that her business had been impacted by the pandemic. Finally, Martins admitted to fraudulently applying for and receiving COVID-related unemployment insurance benefits when she was actually employed as an office manager in April 2020. In total, Martins received over $40,000 in benefits. COVID relief to which she was not entitled.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys G. Michael Seaman and Sandra R. Hebert.
The case was investigated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General; United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; FBI; and the Rhode Island State Police, with assistance from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Unemployment Insurance Fraud Unit.
Rhode Islanders who believe their personal identification was stolen and used to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits are urged to contact the Rhode Island State Police at [email protected] or the FBI office Providence at (401) 272-8310.
On May 17, 2021, the United States Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Justice Department resources in partnership with government agencies to bolster enforcement efforts. and prevention of pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.