A Miami real estate agent was charged with fraud and money laundering linked to $381,000 in Covid-19 relief funds that she allegedly used to pay for a Bentley, cosmetic procedures and a luxury apartment rental.
Daniela Rendon, who hangs her license with Prestige Empire Realty, has been active in Sunny Isles Beach, posting on social media about or working on projects that include Estates at Acqualina and Mansions at Acqualina, and Bentley Residences.
She was also part of the 57 Ocean sales team in Miami Beach.
Rendon’s deals include the $35,500 monthly rental of a unit at Mansions at Acqualina, according to a Traded post from 2021.
Rendon allegedly submitted fraudulent applications for Covid-19 federal relief funds to the Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program by falsifying her revenue, payroll and IRS tax forms, according to a press release and the complaint from the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida.
She allegedly used the money to lease a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, which she highlighted on her Instagram account. She has more than 33,000 followers on the social media platform, where she posts about her luxurious lifestyle.
This year’s model of the Bentley SUV costs upwards of $3,000 a month to lease, depending on the length of the lease and mileage, according to car dealers’ websites.
She also allegedly used the funds for her Biscayne Bay apartment rental, dermatology procedures and to refinish her designer shoes.
Rendon was indicted on two counts of money laundering, seven counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, court records show. If she’s convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
The alleged fraud took place between April 2020 and April 2022, according to the complaint prepared by U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Bailyn.
Rendon, through companies called Rendon PA and Rendon Holdings, allegedly submitted fake information regarding the number of employees, monthly payroll, gross revenue and cost of goods sold to obtain two loans: a $317,290 PPP loan and a $10,000 SBA loan. She enrolled in ADP to funnel the cash to her companies, friends and family, according to the complaint.
That included two wire transfers in 2020 and 2021 to Miami ENT LLC for nearly $75,000, combined.
The company is managed by Andre Lorquet, who the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida indicted on similar charges last year for allegedly submitting fraudulent applications seeking nearly $5 million in pandemic relief funds.
South Florida, often referred to as the country’s fraud capital, has seen its fair share of PPP-related fraud cases, with many of the alleged perpetrators using the federal funds to buy luxury cars, homes and other pricey items.
Last summer, Bal Harbour-based developer Eric Sheppard was indicted on a felony count of wire fraud for allegedly submitting “false and fraudulent” applications to obtain Covid-19 financial assistance loans on behalf of six companies he managed in four states, including three based in Bal Harbour.
The government alleged he stole neatly $900,000 in PPP funds.