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Clarksdale woman admits to scheme involving emergency rental assistance fraud

Action News 5 Memphis 8/17/2022 Lydian Kennin
Mississippi Home Corporation © Provided by Action News 5 Memphis Mississippi Home Corporation

CLARKSDALE, Miss. (WMC) - A judgment has been made against a Clarksdale woman in connection with a scheme to defraud more than $81,505 from the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP).

According to court documents, 30-year-old Sylnonceia Saffold devised a scheme to defraud and obtain RAMP funds by filing false and fraudulent rental assistance applications with the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC).

RAMP funds are distributed by MHC under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Saffold admitted to falsely claiming to be the landlord of 12 people to obtain back rent and future rental assistance for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also attempted 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,” stated 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.”

Last week, 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.

“We will continue to work with our State and Federal partners to make sure emergency assistance gets into the hands of the people that need it for safe, decent, affordable housing. I’m proud of our agency’s efforts to stamp out fraud and protect the integrity of our programs.” said MHC Executive Director Scott Spivey.

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.

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