Trini sentenced for using stolen identity to get covid19 relief US$$

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A Trinidadian woman was recently sentenced to an additional year and nine months in prison in the United States for using a stolen identity during her earlier prosecution for making fraudulent loan applications.

On April 28, a statement from the United States Department of Justice said Tanika Candy Hospedales, 44, had sought more than US$9.2 million (over TT$60 million) in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

These were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The statement quoted court documents which said she applied for and received a PPP loan in May 2020 on behalf of her company using the name and other details of another person, Keyaira Bostic, without authorisation.

Hospedales sought a fraudulent PPP loan of US$84,515 on behalf of her company, I Am Liquid Inc, and referred other conspirators to the scheme. They sought US$3,345,895 in fraudulent loans for a total of US$3,430,410.

During the investigation into her involvement in PPP loans, Hospedales falsely identified herself to law enforcement as Keyaira Bostic. The statement said Hospedales was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with fraudulent PPP loans. The charging documents identified her as Keyaira Bostic.

On November 21, 2021, during her trial before a jury on the PPP fraud charges, Hospedales falsely testified that her name was Keyaira Bostic. The jury convicted her.

During the proceedings, Hospedales gave false information to the probation office about her identity. She surrendered a US passport in the name of Keyaira Bostic that she had fraudulently obtained in 2012.

On February 3, 2022, the court sentenced Hospedales, on her conviction of PPP fraud, to three years and eight months in prison and three years of supervised release, and entered a written judgment against Hospedales in the name of Keyaira Bostic.

A subsequent investigation revealed Hospedales was not Bostic.

Law enforcement authorities obtained visa records which showed that in March 2003, Hospedales entered the US from TT on a temporary visa under her true name.

Hospedales pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for using a false identity during her earlier prosecution. Her term of imprisonment, which will be served after her earlier sentence for PPP fraud, will be followed by three years of supervised release.

The IRS-CI, FBI, and DSS investigated the case.

Trial attorney Philip Trout, of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Assistant US Attorney David Turken, for the Southern District of Florida, prosecuted the case.