Tiffany Dawn Russell to Serve Prison Sentence for a Fraud
Tiffany Dawn Russell, of North Carolina, was sentenced today to 63 months in prison for her part in a massive, multi-year fraud conspiracy. She also received a 36-month sentence for filing a false tax return.
Russell was initially charged with bank malfeasance, bank fraud conspiracy, access device fraud, and misuse of a social security number in November 2020. The indictment claims that Russell and her accomplices used social security numbers that had not been issued to them by the Social Security Administration to apply for loans and credit cards.
They did this in order to open financial accounts and make purchases from merchants while having no intention of paying for the goods and services they obtained. They also created new credit profiles or fake identities for themselves. Russell was accused of using a fake identity to buy a BMW and get a credit card, which she later used to pay for butt augmentation surgery in 2016.
Additionally, Russell lied on his mortgage applications for three properties, one of which was an oceanfront home in Nags Head, North Carolina. To give the impression that she had significant liquid assets and the ability to repay the loans, Russell provided falsified pay stubs and doctored bank statements.
Along with creating false identities, Russell also started a credit washing scheme to erase real debt accounts from her credit history by pretending she was the victim of identity theft and hadn’t opened those accounts. Her credit score increased as a result of the credit reporting agencies removing those accounts, making it possible for her to apply for credit.
Lastly, the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, was fraudulently used by Russell and others to obtain more than $1 million in loans between March 30, 2020, and June 29, 2020.
Two of the ten loan applications, out of the total of ten, included two for her law firm, and they all included fabricated information about the number of employees, monthly payroll, revenue, and expenses.
Russell paid the down payment on her home in Nags Head with these ill-gotten gains and also bought five additional properties in North Carolina, Maryland, and Alabama. Additionally, Russell paid off unrelated personal debt with the help of these illegally obtained gains.
These sentences will be carried out simultaneously. Russell admitted guilt to charges stemming from her attempts to obtain more than $2.5 million from at least 12 banks and the US Small Business Administration earlier this year. Russell was also required to forfeit more than $2 million in fraud proceeds in addition to her prison terms.
The announcement was made by Michael Easley, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, following US District Judge James C. Dever III’s sentencing. The case was looked into by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer handling the prosecution.
The federal government and banks were defrauded for years by the defendant, who will now serve years in prison, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. As Judge Dever noted during sentencing, this was more than a single error; rather, it was a series of poor choices made by a barrister who should have known better.
Because the defendant fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in COVID relief funds meant to assist honest, devout business owners weather the pandemic, this fraud scheme is even more egregious. Instead of being used to support the defendant’s personal interests, money that was supposed to keep businesses afloat was spent on beach houses.
One would applaud the numerous law enforcement agencies who joined our EDNC Covid Fraud Task Force and worked to see that Tiffany Russell was brought to justice.
The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established by the US Attorney General on May 17, 2021, to coordinate the Department of Justice’s resources with those of other government agencies in an effort to strengthen the fight against and prevention of pandemic-related fraud.
By, among other things, enhancing and incorporating current coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, sharing and utilising information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts, and assisting agencies tasked with administering relief programmes, the Task Force supports efforts to investigate and prosecute the most responsible domestic and international criminal actors.
It also supports agencies tasked with preventing fraud. This effort to coordinate fraud-related investigations and prosecutions in Eastern North Carolina is being carried out by the COVID Task Force of the Eastern District of North Carolina.