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Press Release

Six indicted in scheme that defrauded pandemic relief programs of more than $3 million

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Stole Over $2.7 million from King County rental assistance program designed to give emergency help to renters facing eviction

Seattle – A wide ranging fraud scheme, led by 29-year-old Paradise Williams, of Phoenix, was detailed today in a 26-count indictment charging wire fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Two defendants were arrested Monday in Phoenix, a third was arrested in Houston, and three defendants were arrested in Washington State. Two Seattle defendants are detained at the Federal Detention Center with hearings scheduled Friday and next week.

“The participants in this fraud were relentless in exploiting pandemic relief programs that were intended to assist small businesses and people who were vulnerable to eviction,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “The need for the emergency rental assistance greatly outweighed the funds available, and we know that fraud schemes such as this one stole money that should have gone to those desperately needing help.”

According to the indictment, Paradise Williams was the hub in a wheel of fraud. She created fake documents and told her accomplices how to pose as landlords and tenants claiming to need rental assistance. Because the program would pay for back rent and future payments, the person posing as the fraudulent landlord got payments of tens of thousands of dollars for each fake tenant application. Williams received kickback payments from those who used the scheme for fraud. Williams herself received more than $740,000 in emergency funds by posing as the landlord on at least 21 different applications for rental aid. In fact, neither Williams nor her accomplices owned any rental properties and were not the tenants they impersonated.

In addition to Williams the grand jury indicted:

Rayvon Darnell Peterson, 32, of Seattle, Washington

Tia Janee Robinson, 28, of Fife, Washington

Jahari Asad Cunningham, 45, of Houston, Texas

D’arius Akim Jackson, 37, Bonney Lake, Washington

David Jesus Martinez, 32, Pacific, Washington

In addition to the rental assistance fraud, members of the group defrauded or attempted to defraud the unemployment systems in Washington, California, South Carolina, and Nevada. 

Between June 2020 and August 2021, Williams and others submitted at least 35 fraudulent applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) seeking more than $3.7 million from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Two of the loans were funded for a loss of $300,000. Williams assisted her accomplices with forging documents and fake tax statements to defraud the SBA. Williams used multiple common email addresses and a common naming convention for business names as she attempted the fraud.

Williams and others also sought to defraud a different SBA program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In April and May 2021, Williams, Jackson, and others submitted at least 13 fraudulent applications to the SBA PPP program seeking approximately $253,000. Nearly $212,000 was paid out.

According to the indictment the money was used for luxury cars, lavish trips, designer clothes, jewelry, and even plastic surgery. Williams used over $90,000 in cash and wire transferred funds, from the proceeds and kickbacks she received, to buy a 2018 Range Rover sport utility vehicle and a 2017 Lexus ES Sedan. Both vehicles were seized in Phoenix on Monday. In June 2021, Williams used funds from the frauds to travel to Miami and while there she rented a Lamborghini.

Wire fraud in connection with a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from SBA-OIG.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cindy Chang.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated June 7, 2023

Disaster Fraud
Financial Fraud