New York worker pleads guilty to renting free hotel rooms in $400,000 scam during pandemic

A New York call center worker has pleaded guilty to conducting a $400,000 hotel fraud scheme charging people for free rooms funded by the city they were reserved for healthcare workers and patients who were supposed to isolate themselves during the highest peak of covid-19.

Prosecutors reported that Chanette Lewis, 31, took advantage of New York’s free hotel room isolation program and reserved the rooms for guests who paid the required feesome of whom used the accommodation to organize large parties.

The defendant, who worked for an Office of Emergency Management call center, even booked 28 nights at the hotels while claiming to be a health care worker, according to the complaint.

Lewis’s business became so prosperous that the worker was forced to recruit other people to help him.indicated Daily News.

In addition, Lewis pleaded guilty to a separate scheme to defraud the New York City Housing Authority.

Prosecutors in charge of the case explained that he presented false documents to NYCHA that included alleged court orders of protection, letters from a district attorney, and letters from doctors that claimed alleged medical problems that allowed him to fraudulently obtain public housing benefits for himself. and others.

“Chanette Lewis took advantage of multiple life preservers offered to New York City residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

Lewis was specially recruited for the program, a position that gave him access to legitimate identifying information from health care workers.

Also, Prosecutors said that in exchange for $800, the worker sold personally identifiable information from at least five health professionals to a partner, as well as certain “codes” to use when making hotel reservations through the program.

Lewis and others had advertised the discounted hotel rooms on Facebook.

The employee, who resides in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit $289,536 and pay restitution of $360,916.

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