NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A Portsmouth woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to defraud veterans.
According to court documents, 59-year-old Rita Copeland ran a company called “Veteran Services of the Commonwealth,” where she purported to provide caregiving, contracting, and rental assistance services to various veterans from 2016 through 2019.
Copeland allegedly had several victims apply for Home Improvements and Structural Alterations grants through the Department of Veterans Affairs. HISA grants are used for certain designated improvements to the residences of veterans.
Prosecutors say Copeland didn't perform all of the promised work and kept some of the grant money for herself. She also allegedly diverted the income and retirement fund payments of another veteran to her bank account, as well as illegally using the elderly veteran's credit and debit cards.
On top of all that, Copeland also allegedly engaged in a rental fraud scheme where she claimed she would link veterans with landlords, but instead would keep rental and security deposit payments for herself.
As a result, prosecutors say Copeland is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges and a mandatory consecutive term of two years on the aggravated identity theft charge