A glamorous Miami real estate broker is facing federal fraud raps after authorities said she used COVID-19 relief funds on a new Bentley, cosmetic procedures and a luxury apartment.
Daniela Rendon, 31, received $381,000 through the Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program, according to the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
But instead of using the government cash to keep legitimate employees afloat amid the pandemic, Rendon allegedly dispersed the fake payroll funds to friends and family for personal gain.
Rendon blew much of the windfall to lease a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, rent a posh Biscayne Bay apartment and pay for cosmetic work, federal officials said.
She also routed some of the taxpayer monies to refurbish a pair of designer shoes.
Rendon now faces seven counts of wire fraud and money laundering raps that could land her in prison for up to 20 years.
Rendon’s social media pages — most of which were set to private after her arrest — feature her cavorting in a variety of high-end settings in Miami and beyond.
Prosecutors argued at her arraignment last week that she was a flight risk to her native Colombia, a claim her attorney denied, according to the Miami Herald.
A judge set her bond at $150,000, and the mother of three will now fight the charges against her.
As part of the scheme, Rendon allegedly falsified documents related to her real estate business in order to qualify for the PPP money — including her annual revenue, payroll, costs of products, IRS tax info and number of employees. She submitted the fabricated reports to lenders in New Jersey and Idaho, the Miami Herald reported.
Rendon, who calls herself an “Ultra Luxury” real estate agent on LinkedIn, then intersected the loan payments and routed them to herself and those in her inner circle, federal prosecutors allege.
She arranged for a New Jersey payroll processor to process the loans she received through her corporate bank account and issued the checks to family and friends, according to Miami Herald.
Rendon is not the first person to misuse the COVID-19 loan program meant to help small businesses struggling to survive during the pandemic. The $813 billion government relief program was frequently misused by fraudsters who pocketed the cash. A Florida pastor and his son were arrested in December for using funds from a PPP loan meant for their church to buy a luxury $3.7 million mansion on Disney World property.