ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — A Richlands, Virginia woman who owned a local nail and hair salon pleaded guilty to using pandemic unemployment benefits through mail fraud.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Mandi Dawn Hammond, 36, closed her salon, Jama Nail Beauty Bar & Gift Shop, for six weeks starting in March 2020 following an executive order from former Gov. Ralph Northam.
For six weeks, Hammonds received unemployment assistance as her salon remained closed; however, according to the release, she continued to file weekly certificates to receive benefits when she reopened in May 2020 all the way through August 2021 — fraudulently accumulating at least $29,154, court records showed.
“Mandi Hammond continued to fraudulently take taxpayer assistance to enrich herself during a time of national crisis that was meant to help people who truly needed it,” Darrell Waldon, a criminal investigator with the IRS, stated in a release. “This is yet another example of IRS-CI’s commitment to work with our partners and pursue those who commit COVID-19-related fraud and bring them to justice.”
Hammond will be sentenced on Sept. 15, and she faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. A judge will determine her penalty.
The IRS-Criminal Investigations Division and the Russell County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.