A judgment was handed down to a Clarksdale resident in connection with a scheme to defraud the United States of more than $81,505 in Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP) funds.
The RAMP funds, which are distributed by the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC) under the CARES Act, are intended to provide aid to those across the state who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by paying for rent and utility bills. Governor Tate Reeves recently ended the program, arguing that it will force people back into the workforce.
According to court documents, Sylnanceia Saffold, 30, devised a scheme to defraud and obtain RAMP funds by filing false and fraudulent applications, falsely claiming to be the landlord of 12 individuals to obtain backrent and future rental assistance. Saffold also attempted to obtain funds for 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.”
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.
Reeves issued a statement regarding Saffold’s scheme, explaining that these kinds of crimes are the reasoning behind his decision to terminate the program across Mississippi.
The US Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi has discovered a RAMP fraud scheme.
This is part of why we ended this program. It was being abused.
While some Democrat politicians lambasted our decision, the exposing of this fraud further justifies it. pic.twitter.com/9P7oseo7z6
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) August 18, 2022