Thirteen years ago, Jamila Davis became known as the woman who defrauded Lehman Brothers. The then 31-year-old was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for conspiracy and six counts of bank fraud. She ultimately served nine years.
Throughout the time that she was behind bars, Davis continued to work toward her future on the outside, as well as her children's future. She earned an associate's degree in psychology, a bachelor's in Christian education, and a master's in African American ministry while also becoming an author. Now, Davis is telling her story to VH1's My True Crime Story, including how she really got involved with the mortgage fraud scheme.
Where is Jamila Davis now? Davis is revealing all to 'My True Crime Story.'
Back when Davis was first sentenced, then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie claimed that her "long prison sentence" was appropriate for "the breadth and complexity of the fraud" she and the others involved in the scheme committed. But according to Davis' interview with My True Crime Story, in an exclusive clip shared with Distractify, she did exactly as she was told to do.
"Literally, Lehman Brothers Bank taught us how to commit the fraud," Davis says. That all changed during the 2008 financial crisis. Suddenly, Davis, who had become a self-made millionaire by the age of 25, found herself in trouble with the FBI. "They followed me anywhere and everywhere. It's like living in hell. Once you get entangled with the feds, you can never really shake these people."
Davis was accused of fabricating loan applications and supporting documents to acquire millions in inflated mortgages for luxury homes in New Jersey. She was ultimately sentenced alongside Brenda Rickard, who received 10 years and one month in prison. However, the two were far from the only ones involved in the scheme.
At least nine other co-conspirators were outed, including five straw buyers who were paid to write their names, a disbarred attorney, an accountant, and a mortgage broker. The majority of the others involved testified against Davis and Rickard.
Davis missed nine years of her life and her children's lives after her sentencing, but she didn't intend to allow those years to pass without continuing toward her goals. She developed a new focus on counseling ex-offenders, particularly women. Following her release, in addition to the other degrees she received behind bars, she earned a Ph.D. in philosophy with a specialization in Christian life coaching from the Newburgh Theological Seminary & College of the Bible.
While still in prison, Davis used her studies and her own experiences to write self-help curriculum for women to encourage them to recapture their dreams and heal from their previous traumas. She went on to co-found WomenOverIncarcerated.org, an advocacy group that fights for sentencing reform for non-violent female federal offenders.
To hear more of Davis' side of the story, catch My True Crime Story on Aug. 23 at 10 p.m. EST on VH1.