CLARKSDALE, Miss. (WJTV) – A judgement was entered against a Clarksdale woman who prosecutors said admitted to trying to defraud the United States of more than $81,505 in Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP) funds.
According to court documents, 30-year-old Sylnanceia Saffold devised a scheme to defraud and to obtain RAMP funds by filing false and fraudulent rental assistance applications with MHC as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Prosecutors said Saffold admitted to falsely claiming to be the landlord of 12 individuals to obtain backrent and future rental assistance for individuals affected by the COVID pandemic. They said she also tried to obtain funds on behalf of nine others but the fraud was detected by MHC fraud control personnel before the funds were distributed.
“The CARES Act programs, particularly the RAMP program, were intended to help families struggling to maintain their housing because of the pandemic. Unfortunately, far too many individuals like the defendant abused these programs for their own personal benefit,” said United States Attorney Clay Joyner. “Our office continues to prosecute violations of any CARES Act program —PPP, EIDL, RAMP, Employee Retention Credits, and others—in an effort to recover as many stolen taxpayer dollars as possible.”
Saffold entered a civil consent judgment for actual damages plus penalties in the total amount of $101,311.50 before U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock last week.
Governor Tate Reeves, who decided to end the RAMP program recently, released a statement about the case.
Today’s announcement is more proof that Mississippi made the right call by ending RAMP. Not only did this program run astray of its original intent, but we saw an increasing number of potentially fraudulent applications. While some Democrat politicians lambasted our decision, the discovery of this fraud scheme further justifies terminating the program.Gov. Tate Reeves, R-Miss.
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 Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.