NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach woman pleaded guilty Friday to an internet-based loan scam that cheated about 1,700 victims out of over $1.2 million.
Court documents revealed that 53-year-old Terri Beth Miller and her husband and co-defendant 59-year-old Ronald A. Smith — who pleaded guilty today as well — created a fake company called the “Business Development Group.” The internet-based company charged people a fee to help them apply for SBA-guaranteed loans.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the couple “solicited potential customers on the basis of false, fraudulent, and misleading statements and representations, including, among others, that the company was headquartered at the Trump Building in New York and had assisted well-known large companies in obtaining SBA loans.”
Smith and Miller offered the victims a “money-back guarantee,” but in fact employed various fraudulent methods to deny refunds.
Court records say that an aggregate sum of about $1,287,000 in advance fees was paid to the couple for their services. A majority of the customers did not receive an SBA guaranteed loan and the statement released said Smith did “virtually nothing to even attempt to obtain loans for their customers.”
The U.S. Attorney says Miller pleaded guilty to wire fraud and engaging in monetary transactions in a criminally derived property.
She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on April 16, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Smith pleaded guilty to similar charges in October and will be sentenced on April 2, 2021. He was convicted of nearly the identical loan scam in 2006 and received a sentence of seven years in prison.
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