Clarksdale woman admits to running rental assistance scheme

CLARKSDALE, Miss. (WLBT) – A Clarksdale, Mississippi, woman has admitted to running a scheme involving the RAMP rental assistance program – the same program Gov. Tate Reeves ended earlier this month.

According to documents, Sylnanceia Saffold, 30, devised a scheme to defraud and obtain RAMP funds by filing false and fraudulent rental assistance applications as part of the CARES Act.

Saffold said she falsely claimed to be the landlord of 12 people to obtain backrent and future rental assistance for those affected by the pandemic. 

She also attempted to get funds on behalf of 9 others, but the fraud was detected by fraud control personnel before the funds were given out.

In all, she defrauded the government of more than $80,000. Saffold entered a civil consent judgment for actual damages plus penalties in the total amount of $101,311.50

On August 3, Governor Reeves announced that Mississippi was ending the federal program, which offered up to 15 months of free rent and utility bill payments.

The governor said that the program was initially designed to help those who had a hardship caused by COVID-19.

He said the program was to end due its second tranche of funding “straying widely” from the program’s original purpose and intent.

Reeves issued a statement regarding the scheme devised by Sylnanceia Saffold in which he said that the announcement of the fraud “is more proof that Mississippi made the right call by ending RAMP.”

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