Past business partner of influencer who led $1 million coronavirus con said she 'terrifies' him
A social media influencer pleaded guilty this week to using more than $1 million in pandemic relief funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle that she flaunted online. Her former business partner and friend, a victim of her scheming years before her latest con, said he was relieved and anxious to hear the news of her plea.
Mackinzie Dae was initially elated to hear that Danielle Miller was behind bars just after learning about her guilty plea Monday to wire fraud and identity theft charges, but his fear that she might manipulate the situation grew as he talked about her.
Dae is a former combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and turned to public relations and social media influencing after his military service. He said that Miller used his identity to open bank accounts, credit cards and even tried to finance a Tesla in his name while they were building a PR firm together — destroying his credit and even leading to the repossession of his car.
Dae, 34, who met Miller in 2018 through a mutual friend, said over the phone that he worried she had “something up her sleeve or some kind of angle” in pleading guilty. He maintained, however, that her arrest “should have happened sooner.”
“This girl terrifies me,” he said.
Still, Dae said he was hopeful the guilty plea could lead to more people coming forward.
“The more and more publicity that she gets, the more and more people are going to come forward and be like, ‘Oh my God, this woman ruined my life,’” Dae said.
Miller, 32, took on the identities of multiple people to take advantage of the government coronavirus aid used to help small businesses during the lockdowns that began in 2020. The U.S. attorney’s office said she obtained around $1.5 million through fraud to fund a glamorous life that she shared with the followers of her Instagram account, @killadmilla.
In a video hearing on Monday, Miller agreed in a plea deal to forfeit $1.3 million and serve a six-year sentence in prison. She is already serving a five-year sentence for a conviction in a separate Florida bank fraud case in October.
Miller’s attorney, Mitchell C. Elman, said in an emailed statement “that Ms. Miller accepted responsibility for her role in the offenses charged in the indictment,” which charged her with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He said in an email that he and Miller might have more to say at sentencing in June, but he declined to comment further.
Five victims were listed in the indictment, though they were not identified. Their names were used to fraudulently collect nearly $940,000 in SBA loans, the court document said. Dae is not one of the five victims in the case; his relationship with Miller predates the coronavirus cons.
Dae said their partnership began to dissolve after he noticed a number of red flags and caught Miller spinning numerous lies about their business and personal lives and various funds. He called it “a total social nightmare.”
One incident, which Dae previously recounted to New York Magazine, involved Miller using multiple email accounts under the names of her father and her father’s secretary to try to pressure Dae to act on various issues. He said she would maintain “full on conversations” from three different personas over email chains that included Dae in an effort to threaten or harass him.
“This wasn’t even over a long period of time,” he said. “That’s when I started to think this girl was really dangerous.”
He shared an email in which he explicitly told Miller in the fall of 2018 to “not purchase anything under my name or open any accounts,” adding “once again do not act on my behalf for any financial or legal matters.”
In their final confrontation, Miller threatened to kill herself, which was particularly challenging for Dae because a soldier from his unit had died by suicide. Nevertheless, he said Miller told him, “I’m going to kill myself and you’ll have another friend on your hands.”
That was the last straw for Dae. He contacted the police in Los Angeles where they lived, who pulled Miller in for a psychiatric evaluation. While she was gone, he found a debit card in his name that he had never opened. He then discovered she had used his name to apply for credit cards, including an American Express card. She had opened accounts with Cash App, Venmo, Charles Schwab and numerous others in his name as well. She even tried to take out a loan in his name to buy a Tesla, he said.
“There’s still accounts out there that I just don’t know about or have access to,” said Dae, who shared that his credit was negatively affected, he lost access to bank accounts and his car was repossessed because of Miller. “On top of that, she’s never going to forget my social security number.”
Dae said he still feels anxiety about Miller contacting him. Robocalls or texts from numbers he doesn’t know cause him to grow nervous, as he thinks it could be her trying to manipulate him. That entire experience, he said, drove him to quit working in PR and social media. Now he’s found his new passion working in New York at a data center focused on cryptocurrency.
Despite the life change, Dae said that he fears Miller’s name will follow him for the rest of his life and that one of his worst periods could prove to define him.
“This is always going to come up at one point or another,” Dae said. “I’m just worried people are just always going to question my business and anything that comes along with it.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com