PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Takandryia Latrice Cage, 35, formerly of Grand Prairie, TX, was charged by Information with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud based on a scheme to defraud Cisco Systems Inc. (“Cisco”), as well as one count of bank fraud and three counts of wire fraud in connection with schemes to defraud lenders by submitting false Payroll Protection Program applications.
The Information alleges that between July 2016 and January 2018, the defendant conspired with Jerel Andre Williams, charged separately, to perpetrate a scheme to defraud Cisco by engaging in a sophisticated warranty fraud scheme. According to the Information, Cage and Williams obtained serial numbers to expensive computer hardware manufactured by Cisco, and then used false email addresses and identities to submit fraudulent warranty claims to Cisco, pretending to own Cisco products that were not working and under warranty. The Information alleges that Cage and Williams provided customer service representatives with descriptions of the non-existent defects that they knew could not be solved by troubleshooting and would require replacement with new products, causing Cisco to ship the replacement products on the expectation that the defective products would be returned. As charged, once the defendant and Williams obtained the Cisco hardware, Williams sold it to a computer equipment reseller without disclosing that it had been obtained by fraud, and then split the profits with the Cage. The conspirators successfully obtained 157 warranty replacement products from Cisco, each with a retail value of between $3,693 and $34,500, which they had shipped to addresses throughout the United States, including addresses in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; Las Vegas, Nevada; Henderson, Nevada; La Jolla, California; San Diego, California; Arlington, Texas; Dallas, Texas; and Fort Worth, Texas.
The Information further alleges that Cage independently perpetrated schemes to defraud lenders participating in the Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”), which was a provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) that provided with Small Business Association with authorization to forgive loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the defendant submitted six false PPP loan applications to lenders, on which she made numerous false statements regarding businesses she purported to own and operate, including false statements about the number of employees, the wages paid, the payroll taxes paid, the revenues and net profits earned, and the intended use of the PPP loan proceeds. As a result of these six false PPP loan applications, Cage caused lenders to send her over $101,000 in PPP funds, which she then spent on unauthorized purchases for herself.
“Warranties are designed to make consumers whole by replacing faulty products, not for exploitation by scammers looking to turn an illegal profit,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Warranty fraud is not a victimless crime, rather, companies which support employment for thousands of workers stand to lose significant sums, as the charges demonstrate here. The defendant also allegedly scammed the U.S. government by defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program, which is intended to help American businesses continue paying their employees in the face of the pandemic. Thieves who defraud these programs are taking advantage of honest business and taxpayers alike.”
“This alleged fraudster demonstrated a keen aptitude for working the system,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire. “Through this scheme, the funds intended for employees whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic were depleted for nefarious purposes. Whether it’s government coffers, corporate accounts, or someone’s piggybank, the taking of money you aren’t entitled to is illegal. And no matter how clever you think the scheme, the FBI will uncover it and, with our partners, bring you to justice.”
“IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to join forces with our law enforcement partners to investigate crimes like these and hold the offenders accountable,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge Yury Kruty. The charges brought against Cage is a victory for all law-abiding individuals who work hard to make an honest living.”
The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison, a five-year period of supervised release, a $2,000,000 fine, and a $500 special assessment. The defendant will also be required to make full restitution to Cisco and the lenders she defrauded.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.
An Indictment, Information, or Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.