A city call center worker reportedly turned the COVID-19 emergency hotel room program into a lucrative salary by illegally booking luxury rooms online at discounted prices for a profit of $ 400,000.
Chanette Lewis, 30, has been charged with fraud, conspiracy and identity theft in connection with the alleged scam of the city’s COVID-19 hotel room isolation program – which was created to put quarantine medical workers exposed to the virus.
Under racketeering, the Office of Emergency Management employee used information from healthcare workers to book rooms with government pennies and advertised the vacancies on Facebook, officials said in a statement Tuesday.
“I make hotels 60 percent 5 star hotels. I don’t know exactly which hotel you would be in, but I know it would be a 5 star hotel… be prepared for the cash application !! ” Lewis advertised, prosecutors said.
“Reserve today, $ 300 for the entire monthhhhhhhhhhhhhh !! !! !! !! ” another post would have been read.
Lewis – along with his accomplices Tatiana Benjamin, Tatiana Daniel and Haven West – has booked more than 2,700 illegal hotel stays in Manhattan and the Bronx, including 28 for his own enjoyment, federal officials have said.
Some of the woman’s clients “have organized big parties, and sometimes even engaged in acts of violence,” said US Attorney’s Special Agent Jared Eannucci.
Lewis even bragged about his misdeeds on Facebook, according to the complaint.
“I stole doctor numbers and emails… I wrote that they were using [sic] lmao identification number, ”she wrote. “I did 16K in 5 days, I am proud of moiffff”, a private message would have indicated.
The suspect would also have left a digital trace during the recruitment of her co-conspirators.
“I want to teach you the ropes,” Lewis wrote to Benjamin, 26, last June, according to prosecutors.
“I work for 311 OEMs, that’s how I got medical licenses and stuff. . . I work in the part where I collect the information and I make and approve the reservation. . . I take doctors and certificate numbers and stuff, ”Lewis said on Facebook.
“Let’s go get this bread while this thing is active,” the woman from Queens reportedly replied.
When the city became aware of the project the following month, Benjamin reportedly foreshadowed his fate in a message to Lewis.
“We are going to lmao jail,” according to officials.
“In the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, as this city grapples with skyrocketing transmission and death rates, these defendants tapped into the very city-run program intended to provide respite and isolation for workers. health and city residents desperately trying to find a space to quarantine and stem the spread of the virus, ”said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
Lewis is also accused of illegally collecting $ 45,000 in COVID-19 unemployment benefits while collecting a paycheck from the city and preparing for the cheeky program.
Benjamin, Daniel, 27, and West, 21, each face 40 years behind bars. Lewis envisions 72 years in much less desirable government housing.