SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is searching for additional victims of a defendant who allegedly defrauded the Payroll Protection Program of COVID-19 relief funds and stole the identity of two lawyers.
The defendant, identified as Miranda Devlin (aka Miranda Martin, aka Miranda Petrillo), has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with mail fraud and with making false statements on an application for coronavirus relief funds, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.READ MORE: Lake County Luxury Hotel, Housing Project Raises Concerns Over Wildfire Risk
“We allege Miranda Devlin committed serial fraud,” said Anderson in a press release. “Among the schemes alleged in the complaint, Devlin used a shell company to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP, out of pandemic relief funds.”
“By allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program, a program designed to assist our local businesses as they navigate stressful, uncertain times, Miranda Devlin violated the trust of her community,” said Special Agent Fair. “By allegedly exploiting this program and further straining resources designated for pandemic relief, she cheated legitimate, hardworking business owners and their employees.”
The criminal complaint alleges that 37-year-old San Francisco resident Devlin impersonated multiple California licensed attorneys by using their names and license numbers. The complaint states that Devlin assumed the name of “Miranda Martin” and later “Miranda Petrillo” and used those names to act as a criminal defense attorney.
According to the Department of Justice release, Devlin was retained by two defendants facing serious criminal charges in Marin County Superior Court. She initially appeared in court as “Miranda Martin.” The complaint alleges that when questioned, she thereafter pivoted and assumed the identity of another attorney who also shared her first name, Miranda Petrillo.READ MORE: Theft Leaves San Jose Couple Bereft: 'We’re Heartbroken, All Our Precious Things Are Gone'
Devlin was arrested on November 26, 2019, for impersonating an attorney after a court appearance in Marin County. The complaint alleges that the true Miranda Martin and Miranda Petrillo are licensed attorneys with the State Bar of California and are both victims of Devlin’s identity thefts.
The complaint further alleges that Devlin had also defrauded the Small Business Administration by submitting a loan application to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the name of a shell business. A PPP loan must be used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
The complaint alleges that Devlin submitted an application for a PPP loan in the amount of $32,700 on behalf of an entity she created, the Common Nucleus of Cancer, LLC (CNC). Once the loan was funded, Devlin used the money for a variety of unauthorized non-payroll expenses, including purchases from Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, and Tiffany & Co. as well as stock purchases.
Devlin made her initial appearance in federal court on Friday. She was released on bond and her next scheduled appearance is on March 8.MORE NEWS: Indoor Restaurant Dining Resumes, Movie Theaters Reopen in SF and Santa Clara Counties
The FBI believes that there may be more victims in this case and is urging the public to contact the FBI’s San Francisco office at (415) 553-7400 if they believe they are a victim, have information about potential victims, or have information related to this ongoing case. Callers may remain anonymous.