Buffalo Woman Indicted For Scheming To Defraud Hurricane Victims
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 33-count indictment charging Keonna Davis, 32, of Buffalo, NY, with wire fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case, stated that between September and December 2017, the defendant worked as a disaster recovery specialist for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA provides low-interest disaster relief loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from federally declared disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. In her role as a disaster recovery specialist, Davis spoke directly with loan applicants to assist in processing their loan applications. The defendant also had access to the SBA’s loan application database.
It is alleged that Davis abused her position at the SBA by stealing the identities of multiple disaster relief loan applicants, who were victims of Hurricane Harvey or Irma, and by using, and attempting to use, the victims’ identities fraudulently to enrich herself. She did so by opening new accounts using victim information, adding herself to existing victim accounts, using victim information to apply for loans, and purchasing goods using victim accounts. In the course of this scheme, Davis is alleged to have attempted to obtain, among other things, a $4,900 loan for a French bulldog, a $15,000 loan for plastic surgery, and a $35,000 personal loan.
The defendant was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. and released on conditions.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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Updated October 9, 2019