Six Indicted in COVID-19 HOPE Fraud Scheme that Allegedly Defrauded North Carolina Rental Assistance Program

RALEIGH, N.C. –  A federal grand jury in Greenville returned an indictment charging six individuals with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their roles in an alleged scheme to obtain emergency rental assistance designated for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by filing at least 44 fraudulent North Carolina HOPE program applications, resulting in the disbursement of more than $279,000 in proceeds in connection with the scheme. The indictment was returned on September 14, 2023, and the final defendant was arrested and made his initial appearance today.

“The North Carolina HOPE program was meant to help struggling North Carolinians stay in their homes during an unprecedented public health emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Those who took advantage of our nation’s generosity to defraud this and other relief programs will face criminal prosecution.”

According to the indictment, between June 2021 and February 2022, it is alleged that the six defendants, and others they recruited, falsely claimed to be landlords on properties that they neither owned nor served as a landlord for to apply for rental assistance from the North Carolina HOPE program. The North Carolina HOPE program utilized federal funding to assist renters who faced housing insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants applied for the program and eligible applicants and their landlords were provided an agreement certifying the accuracy of the application. Landlords participating in the program had to agree not to evict a tenant for a certain amount of time and were paid directly by the state.

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