Prolific Fraudster Ordered To Prison
PHILADELPHIA – Tamira Fonville, 34, of New York City, who lied on loan applications, helped to run a check kiting scheme, and filed for public assistance benefits while living in a luxury apartment, was sentenced today to 15 months in prison. Fonville pleaded guilty on September 10, 2014 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Jan E. DuBois ordered restitution in the amount of $202,634, and three years of supervised release, with the first 9 months to be served on home confinement with electronic monitoring.
Fonville, with her co-conspirator and leader of the scheme, Ricardo Falana, and others used the ruse of a fictitious hair show to persuade young women to provide them with their bank account numbers, debit card information, including PINs, and checks. Fonville and Falana told these young women that the information was needed in order to pay them, and also told these women that they could earn money by allowing Fonville and Falana and their co-conspirators to use their accounts for deposits and withdrawals of funds. Fonville was the main contact with the young women recruited for the scheme. Falana deposited the fraudulent checks and used the debit card information to withdraw money from the accounts and purchase money orders at Walmart stores. Fonville personally benefitted from this scheme to the tune of more than $230,000 between 2008 and 2013. She used some of the proceeds to pay for plastic surgery, to pay for the car loan on her 2011 Camaro and to pay the $2100 per month rent on her New York City apartment. Fonville has stated that she viewed this scheme as a “career.”
In addition to the check kiting scheme, Fonville fraudulently obtained benefits from the SNAP (food stamps) program, Medicaid program and a New York child care program between 2010 and 2014, and received deferments on almost $100,000 of student loans, claiming that she had no income and was unemployed, and that, in some cases, that her father or grandmother paid her rent and other expenses. In 2013 and 2014, she submitted letters to the New York child care program, allegedly from her father, falsely stating that her father paid her monthly apartment rent payments directly to her landlord.
In 2012, Ms. Fonville purchased a $30,000 Chevrolet Camaro through a car loan. In her loan application, she stated that she was a six year employee of Mesa Airlines and had a salary of $65,000 per year, providing fraudulent contact information for her alleged employer. To obtain the lease on her luxury apartment in New York City in 2009, Ms. Fonville had claimed that she had worked for Mesa Airlines for three years and that her salary was $70,000 per year. She also submitted false reference letters from an alleged landlord and Mesa Airlines, a fraudulent W-2 form, and a fraudulent bank statement showing that she had a balance of $11,000 in a Bank of America account. Her bank account at that time was, in fact, overdrawn.
The case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.