An Oakland, Calif. woman was sentenced to three years in federal prison for attempting to scam the government out of $4.5 million in pandemic relief funds for fake companies she created in 2020. The woman also has to pay more than $1 million in restitution.
On Feb. 24, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release detailing Christina Burden’s crimes. Burden, 32, was found guilty of two counts each of bank fraud and money laundering.
In 2020, the California woman registered four shell companies with the IRS and two of those with the California Secretary of State. According to Burden’s arrest affidavit, she designated herself as the proprietor of Pinkie’s Place LLC., Creative Synergy Group, Blessing Box Co. LLC., and Burden Consulting Group LLC. The 32-year-old woman applied for a total of $4,696,637.67 in PPP and EIDL loans, was only funded for $1,143,191– of which $150,900 came from EIDL monies. Burden, who is an accountant and consultant by trade, misrepresented herself on the loan applications by saying that she had 89 employees and a monthly payroll of $700,000.
Before she was found guilty, U.S. Attorney David Anderson alleged that Burden enjoyed a massive spending spree with the money so many other people needed.
“The Paycheck Protection Program provides a financial lifeline to needy businesses and their employees. We allege that Christina Burden obtained PPP funds by fraud, submitting false business information, false employee numbers, false bank statements, and false tax returns. She used those funds for a spending spree on entertainment, luxury goods, and high-end excursions, including travel by private jet.”
By the time Burden was arrested for the alleged fraud and money laundering on Feb. 5, 2021, the woman had spent a large portion of the money on personal items for herself, friends and family members, including “$184,000 on private jet travel, airfare and hotels; $124,000 on purchases from lux merchandise from Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, the San Francisco Giants Dugout Store, Sunglass Hut, Tumi, Wayfair and Neiman Marcus; $16,000 on boat and car rentals; and $14,000 on various restaurant and entertainment expenses, among other purchases.”
Lastly, she purchased a Mercedes and a Land Rover for $150,000.
In a crazy twist of fate, a woman with the same name and occupation in Oakland, Calif., has been catching heat for the 32-year-old’s crimes. Upon further research, the defendant is ten years younger than the woman. The other Burden (with an incredibly good sense of humor) posted a message to her Facebook account with the press release from DOJ.
“Here we go again… It ain’t me! I got this chick by over ten years in age,” she wrote.
The guilty woman is set to report to prison on Apr. 7.