A woman faces the threat of spending 30 years in prison for stealing the identity of a deceased baby so that she could become a private jet flight attendant and swindle the U.S. government out of $1.5 million in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic.
Ava Misseldine, 49, of Columbus, Ohio, has been accused by federal prosecutors of stealing the identity of a baby that died in 1979 and is buried in a Columbus grave. Prosecutors allege Misseldine assumed the identity of the baby in 2003 and used it for the next 13 years until an investigation was launched last year.
The deceased baby’s identity was also used by Misseldine to obtain a passport and a student pilot license and even gain admission into Ohio State University.
Misseldine has been charged with aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, Social Security number fraud and fraud in connection with an emergency.
According to court documents, the fraud allegedly began in 2003 when Misseldine initially used the deceased baby’s identity to acquire an Ohio ID, before getting a fraudulent Social Security Card and drivers license.
Four years later, Misseldine applied for a passport in the name of the deceased baby, claiming she needed the travel document to work international assignments as a flight attendant with private jet charter airline JetSelect.
Misseldine had already duped the airline into employing her under the fake identity.
During the pandemic, Misseldine is alleged to have taken criminal advantage of pandemic relief schemes by using both her real and fake identities to apply for fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans for bakeries that she no longer owned.
She is accused of using the money to buy a new zone next to Zion National Park in Utah for $647,500. She bought a second home for $327,500 in Michigan with the remainder of the loans.
In 2021, Misseldine tried to renew her fraudulent passport and an investigation was launched. If found guilty, she faces a statutory minimum of two years behind bars and up to 30 years in prison.
The allegations are reminiscent of Ricardo Cesar Guedes’s story who stole the identity of a deceased U.S. baby. Guedes, a Brazilian national, assumed the identity of the baby so that he could live and work in the United States where he later went on to become a United Airlines flight attendant.
Guedes worked as a flight attendant for several decades under the fake identity until he went to renew his passport in late 2020. The passport office became suspicious and opened an investigation which revealed Guedes’ real identity.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.