Owner of Hudson Falls plumbing business admits using customer info for scam

ALBANY – The co-owner of a Washington County plumbing business pleaded guilty Wednesday to swindling two banks of a combined $133,000 using the personal information of her customers to establish bogus credit lines she billed to line her pockets. 

Renee Burnell, 49, of Hudson Falls, admitted in U.S. District Court in Albany that she defrauded Synchrony Bank and The Bank of Missouri in 2019 and 2020. Burnell “knowingly submitted false and fraudulent applications for consumer credit” to the banks “in the names of customers of the defendant’s business for services that were not rendered and thereby fraudulently obtained payments,” according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors in Albany said Burnell’s swindle cost The Bank of Missouri $119,264 and Synchrony Bank $13,912.

On Wednesday, Burnell pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft before Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn. She faces a mandatory two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, which would run consecutive to any other time. Her prison time will be impacted by federal sentencing guidelines. 

Burnell admitted that in 2019, she submitted 23 fraudulent charges to Synchrony on behalf of 19 customers. The bank approved and funded five of the charges for $13,912. In addition, Burnell submitted 21 phony online applications for consumer credit from The Bank of…

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