Chanette Lewis, Tatiana Benjamin, Tatiana Daniel and Heaven West have been charged with a scheme that defrauded New York City’s COVID-19 Hotel Room Isolation Program of more than $400,000 by falsely claiming to be health care workers and then selling the rooms to non-qualifying individuals, according to the Department of Labor and the NYC Department of Investigation.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City created the COVID-19 Hotel Room Isolation Program. Funded by New York City and FEMA, the program provided free hotel rooms for qualifying individuals throughout New York City. The program was open to health care workers who needed to isolate because of exposure to COVID-19; patients who had tested positive for COVID-19; people who believed, based on their symptoms, that they were infected with COVID-19; and people who lived with someone who had COVID-19.
Those who wished to book a hotel room through the program could either call a phone number or use an online hotel booking platform.
The four defendants secured free program hotel rooms for themselves by falsely claiming to be health care workers, then sold use of the rooms to customers who were ineligible for the program, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District.
In total, the defendants allegedly diverted more than 2,700 nights’ worth of hotel rooms through this scheme. Customers paid the defendants in cash and using electronic payment services. The federal government and New…