Two plead guilty to housing assistance fraud during pandemic

Two North Carolina residents plead guilty Fraud charges One case involves the misuse of funds set aside for people struggling to pay housing costs during the pandemic.

Takeeia Hawkins, 43, and her daughter Shanasia Hawkins, 22, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud involving nearly $150,000 allocated by the North Carolina Housing Opportunity and Eviction Prevention Program U.S. dollars of federal funds. They could face 30 years in prison.

“These funds are intended to help struggling families pay rent“These defendants stole it,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said in a release. “Our office will continue to pursue fraudsters who use pandemic relief as a personal piggy bank.”

Tactics used in the scheme to falsify identities and property titles highlight public assistance vulnerabilities that could impact mortgage lending Industrial risk management also.

The program offered online applications and two criminals falsely represented themselves as property owners in more than 50 projects, according to court documents. They received a series of paper checks from the program that were supposed to cover up to 15 months of rent. Rent payment. These payments are supposed to cover unpaid rent or future obligations that the tenant may have difficulty meeting.

The federal funds were intended to pay struggling tenants’ rent directly to landlords, and criminals apparently used a third party to obtain IDs used in the scams.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for many families, including those in communities across North Carolina,” North Carolina Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Schurmeier said in a news release. Emergency relief funding like the state HOPE program is intended to provide a lifeline to those struggling to make ends meet. It is disappointing that some are taking advantage of this crisis.”

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