Influencer sentenced to 5 years for COVID relief fraud scheme used to fund her lavish lifestyle

Influencer sentenced to 5 years for COVID relief fraud scheme used to fund her lavish lifestyle

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An Instagram influencer was sentenced to five years behind bars on Thursday for using more than 10 stolen identities to fraudulently obtain over $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds, officials said. 

Danielle Miller, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in March. 

She used her ill-gotten money to charter a private jet and rent a luxury apartment as part of a “quest for fleeting social media stardom,” Acting United States Attorney Joshua Levy said. 

“Today’s sentencing should make it crystal clear that curating a high-society social media presence on the backs of hardworking taxpayers is a path to prison, not fleeting fame,” Levy said. 

Miller used her Instagram account to show off her extravagant lifestyle, with posts chronicling stays at luxury hotels in California and featuring “accouterments of wealth,” Levy said.

Her last post as of Thursday was made on Oct. 14, 2022, more than a year after her arrest.  

Following her arrest but prior to her guilty plea, Miller began selling merchandise bearing the phrase “I am not an influencer,” which she called a “subtle commentary pushing back against fake news, poor investigator journalists and the click bait the media continues to perpetuate.”

Miller had more than 24,000 followers as of her sentencing. 

Miller faces three years of supervised release after she completes her prison sentence, authorities said. She was also ordered to pay restitution, though the amount has not yet been determined. Officials in March had said Miller could face a fine of up to $250,000. 

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