Influencer Pleads Guilty To $1 Million COVID Relief Scam Using Stolen Identities
A social media influencer and self-professed con artist who once boasted the friendship of infamous scammer Anna Delvey has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1 million in pandemic-related loans.
Danielle Miller, 33, pleaded guilty Monday in Boston to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft over accusations that she stole the identities of more than 10 people to take out loans, open bank accounts and receive thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits. The money was then used to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included chartering a private jet and booking luxury hotel stays, federal prosecutors said.
Miller, whose social media accounts feature photos and videos of her wearing an ankle monitor while sporting designer clothing and driving a Rolls-Royce, struck a plea deal with prosecutors to forfeit $1.3 million and serve six years in prison, Reuters reported. Each wire fraud charge otherwise carries a sentence of up to 20 years.
“Miller accepted responsibility for her role in the offenses charged in the indictment,” her attorney told HuffPost in a statement Tuesday.
Her sentence, scheduled to be handed down June 27, could reportedly overlap with a five-year sentence that she received last year in Florida as part of a separate identity fraud case.
From July 2020 to May 2021, Miller bankrolled her glamorous lifestyle using fake photo IDs and fake business names to apply for COVID-19 relief loans funded by the federal government, according to prosecutors.
She also used other people’s identities to rent a luxury apartment in Miami, arrange a private Gulfstream jet flight from Florida to California ― where she arranged luxury accommodations under an identity theft victim’s name ― and rent a Zipcar vehicle in Miami that was never returned. The car was later found abandoned but traced back to Miller after her name was discovered on a piece of paper inside, according to a criminal complaint.
Miller meanwhile publicized her thefts, authorities said, with social media photos of herself at California’s ritzy Beverly Hills Hotel and the nearby Petit Ermitage. Illegal transactions were made at both luxury hotels in September 2020 with a photo ID that matched Miller’s face but bore a different name, an investigating agent said in a court document.
By the time of the agent’s 2021 probe, Miller already had a criminal record that included arrests in five different states, “many of which were related to larceny and identity-related fraud,” the agent said.
“I more so consider myself a con artist than anything,” Miller told New York Magazine in a profile last year while under house arrest and awaiting trial.
The former law student, whose father was once president of the New York State Bar Association, said she learned how scamming works while serving time in New York following a grand larceny arrest in her college days. It was during this time that she said she befriended fellow inmate Delvey ― born Anna Sorokin ― whose elaborate thefts were the focus of a hit Netflix miniseries in 2022.
“I literally just researched on the internet,” Miller told New York Magazine of her scamming know-how. “It was very readily available to me. No one taught me it. I just overheard some things while I was in Rikers Island.”