Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TATIANA DANIEL has been charged today with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. DANIEL engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the COVID-19 pandemic by (1) defrauding New York City’s COVID-19 Hotel Isolation Program; (2) selling false positives and negatives of COVID-19; (3) committing fraud by engaging in unemployment; and (4) obtaining fraudulent COVID-19 loans from the United States Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection (“PPP”) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) programs. DANIEL pleads guilty before the United States Attorney, Ona T. Wang. DANIEL’s case has been assigned to United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
United States Attorney Damian Williams said: “As she admitted today, Tatiana Daniel repeatedly took advantage of resources provided to help individuals and businesses in need. Daniel’s wrongdoings included selling fake COVID-19 results, which could put people at risk of contracting the virus from Daniel’s client. Daniel now faces time in prison for his illegal and dangerous actions.”
According to allegations in the Superseding Information, court filings, and statements made at trial:
From March 2020 to September 2021, DANIEL conspired to commit fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic through various means.
First, DANIEL hacked the COVID-19 Hotel Isolation Program (“Program”). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City created the Program. Funded by New York City and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the program provided free hotel rooms to eligible residents throughout New York City. The program was open to (a) healthcare workers who had to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19; (b) patients who have tested positive for COVID-19; (c) persons who are believed, based on their symptoms, to be infected with the COVID-19 virus; and (d) people who live with a person who has COVID-19. As stated on the City’s website describing the Program, such individuals “may self-isolate at a hotel, free of charge, for up to 14 days if you do not have a safe place to self-isolate.” Those who want to book a hotel room through the App can call the phone number or use the online hotel reservation system.
DANIEL hacked the Program in two ways. First, he secured free Program hotel rooms by falsely claiming to be a health care worker – specifically, a respiratory therapist. Second, they fraudulently sold at least 144 hotel nights to customers who were ineligible for the program. Pursuant to this plan, DANIEL used Facebook to advertise the sale of Program hotel rooms, to communicate directly with prospective buyers of Program hotel rooms, and to communicate with a defendant who worked at a call center that made calls and made reservations. The program for a few months in 2020. For example, at one point, DANIEL wrote to his accuser saying, “We have to transfer the prostitute who only asks for an employee ID.”
Second, DANIEL used a fraud mill, which DANIEL sold, among other things, produced positive and negative COVID-19 test results in July and August 2021. The false test results included the names of the alleged medical professionals, and they were incorrect (for example“incentives”).
Third, between May 2021 and September 2021, DANIEL submitted fraudulent forms for COVID-19 loans, through both the PPP and EIDL programs, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in payments to DANIEL and an associate.
Fourth, between March 2020 and September 2021, DANIEL conspired to fraudulently obtain more than $97,000 in New York State unemployment benefits for himself and others. He did so under false pretences, and stole the identities of more than 10 people and collected money to help those people. In addition, DANIEL also offered services that were not successful in other countries.
DANIEL, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. In accordance with his plea, DANIEL has agreed to forfeit $109,655 and reimburse $401,206.
The largest possible sentence in this case is passed by Congress and is presented here for your information, because each sentence of the defendant will be confirmed by the judge. DANIEL is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kaplan on March 29, 2023, at 2:30 pm.
DANIEL’s three co-defendants are currently scheduled to go on trial before Judge Kaplan on January 17, 2023.
Mr. Williams praised the efforts of staff, investigators, and experts from the New York City Department of Investigation, the New York Regional Office of the US Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General (“DOL-OIG”), and the US. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Williams also thanked the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Intelligence Analysts for their support and assistance in this investigation. He also thanked the New York City Police Department, the New York State Department of Labor, and the DOL-OIG Atlanta Regional Office for their assistance.
The matter is being investigated by the Office of Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant US Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the case.