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St. Louis County woman admits pretending to be landlord to get $267,239 in COVID assistance

The feds said she used the money for vacations, purchasing real estate and other personal expenses.
Credit: stock.adobe.com

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Louis County woman on Monday admitted to federal authorities that she pretended to be a landlord to get $267,239 in COVID-19 pandemic-related assistance.

Semaj Portis, 42, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Portis in January 2021 registered a company called Forever Riding with the Missouri Secretary of State, and then filed 52 applications for rental assistance to the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which administered the assistance programs.

Portis, the feds said, listed herself or Forever Riding as the landlord and submitted fraudulent rental leases.

But she wasn't the landlord for any of the tenants listed in the applications, according to the feds.

They said Portis worked as a nurse for 12 years and then as a medical dispatcher, and used the money for vacations, purchasing real estate and other personal expenses.

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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