April 17, 2015

Prolific Fraudster Ordered to Prison

PHILADELPHIA—Tamira Fonville, 34, of New York, NY, who lied on loan applications, ran a check kiting scheme, and filed for public assistance while living in a luxury apartment, was sentenced today to 15 months in prison. Fonville pleaded guilty on September 10, 2014 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Jan E. DuBois ordered restitution in the amount of $202,634.32, a special assessment of $400, and three years of supervised release.

Fonville and her conspirator, Ricardo Falana, used the ruse of a fictitious hair show to persuade young women to provide them with their bank account numbers, debit card information, including PINs, and checks. Fonville told the victims that the information was needed in order to pay them. She also told the victims that they could earn money by allowing Fonville and Falana and their co-conspirators to use the victims’ accounts for deposits and withdrawals of funds. Fonville then deposited fraudulent checks and used the debit card information to withdraw money from the account. Fonville personally benefitted from this scheme to the tune of more than $230,000 between 2008 and 2013. She used some of the proceeds to pay for plastic surgery, to pay for the car loan on her 2011 Camaro and to pay the $2100 per month rent on her apartment. Fonville has stated that she viewed this scheme as a “career.”

In addition to the check kiting scheme, Fonville fraudulently obtained benefits from the SNAP (food stamps) program, Medicaid program and a New York child care program between 2010 and 2014, and received deferments on almost $100,000 of student loans, claiming that she had no income or was unemployed, and, in some cases, that her father or grandmother paid her rent and other expenses. She submitted letters from her father containing false statements to the New York child care program: one dated June 3, 2013 that stated that her father paid her $900 monthly rent payment for the 446 Kent Avenue apartment directly to the landlord; and one dated April 9, 2014 that stated that her father paid her $775 monthly rent payment to Kareem Brooks for her residence at 680 Adelphi Street in Brooklyn. Gov’t Exhibit 5. Ms. Fonville’s rent for the 446 Kent Avenue apartment was $2100 per month, and, according to Ms. Fonville, she was living at her father’s house (not on Adelphi Street) in 2014 and now.

In 2012, Ms. Fonville purchased a $30,000 Chevrolet Camaro through a car loan. In her loan application, she stated that she was a six year employee of Mesa Airlines and had a salary of $65,000 per year, providing fraudulent contact information for her alleged employer. To obtain the lease on a luxury apartment, Apartment 7D at 446 Kent Avenue in 2009, Ms. Fonville again claimed that she had worked for Mesa Airlines, this time, claiming employment with Mesa for three years and a salary of $70,000 per year. She also submitted false reference letters from an alleged landlord and Mesa Airlines, a fraudulent W-2 form, and a fraudulent bank statement showing that she had a balance of $11,000 in a Bank of America account. Her bank account at that time was, in fact, overdrawn. Her co-conspirator Ricardo Falana was sentenced in February to 80 months in prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.