A social media influencer and self-proclaimed ‘con artist’ pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining almost $1.5million in pandemic loans to purchase luxury goods.
Danielle Miller, 32, pleaded guilty on Monday to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity fraud for the scheme that stole millions from the federal government’s Small Business Association.
Miller, who has been arrested in five different states over the course of the last decade, lived as a New York City and Los Angeles socialite through fraud after her parents cut her off.
‘Honestly, I more so consider myself a con artist than anything,’ she told New York Magazine in an extensive profile in February 2022. She told the magazine that she rode each fraud opportunity like a wave, and ‘COVID was a huge wave.’
Federal investigators found that Miller’s IP address in Florida was used to access 27 different accounts at myRMV – the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website.
At least 10 of the identities from myRMV then applied for Small Business Administration loans. Many of the loans that Miller applied for were flagged as possibly fraudulent, but at least one was granted.
Miller was more successful in other states, and eventually succeeded in obtaining at least five loans. These include one person in Massachusetts, one in Wisconsin, two in Texas, and one in North Carolina.
In total, Miller was able to secure almost $1,500,000 in loans under each victim’s name.
Investigators were eventually able to identify Miller by tracking payments made to a fraudulent bank account opened in the Massachusetts victim’s name.
According to a criminal complaint, Miller used the account to pay her rent in Miami, charter a private flight to California, and spend over $5,500 at the Petit Ermitage, a luxury hotel in West Hollywood.
They also tracked her posts on Instagram, where she posted photos at Petit Ermitage and the Beverly Hills Hotel shortly after the fraudulent payments there were detected.
‘Miller maintained an active social media presence via her Instagram account, which had more than 34,000 followers,’ US Attorney Rachael Rosen said. ‘There, Miller posted her extravagant use of the fraud proceeds and stolen identities, publicizing her purchasing of luxury goods and renting of luxury accommodations.’
According to photos posted on her Instagram page, Miller used the funds to buy Louis Vuitton and Prada handbags, Valentino shoes, and clothing from Chanel and Gucci. She posted videos driving a Rolls-Royce and flying in private jets.
Miller was able to use all of these identities simultaneously by creating fake driver’s licenses with her victim’s names but her photo. For at least one victim, she even had a fake passport made, according to her indictment.
When Miller was arrested by federal agents in May 2021, she was recovering from Brazilian butt-lift surgery at her apartment in Miami, she told New York Magazine.
The agents said: ‘Oh, we know,’ according to Miller.
Miller’s father, Michael Miller, was a renowned estate lawyer and the former president of the New York State Bar Association. She grew up just south of Central Park in Manhattan, and attended the prestigious Horace Mann School.
Miller’s sentencing is scheduled for June 27. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Over 1,000 people have been convicted so far for fraudulently using pandemic relief funds, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.
The GAO also found that just one program – COVID Unemployment Insurance – was fraudulently billed for over $60billion.
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