Exitus CEO arrested for allegedly faking nursing credentials and misleading investors
Sep 16, 2023, 8:21 PM | Updated: Sep 18, 2023, 5:21 am
UTAH COUNTY, Utah — The CEO of a nonprofit group dedicated to helping those affected by human trafficking was arrested on Friday for over 30 fraud-related charges.
Candace Elexzandria Lierd, also known as Candace Rivera, 37, was booked into the Utah County Jail on felony charges of pattern of unlawful activity, unlawful/unprofessional conduct – practicing, communications fraud, theft value greater or equal to $5,000, forgery purports to be the act of another, false statement in an official proceeding or misleading public servant, and identity fraud value greater or equal to $5,000, according to the police affidavit.
On June 15, the Utah Attorney General’s Office of Salt Lake was assigned to investigate allegations of fraudulent financial activity relating to Exitus, a non-profit organization focusing on combating human trafficking and helping survivors.
According to the affidavit, Lierd registered Exitus as its CEO in August 2020 until Dec. 27, 2022, when the business would expire due to “failure to file renewal.”
According to authorities, Lierd is also listed as the CEO of CR House & Company, a “branding house” company established in 2020. The CR House & Company website offered paid services and claimed it was featured on news networks like CNN, Fox News and BBC.
Authorities inquired Utah’s Department of Professional Licensing about Lierd’s status as a nurse practitioner or registered nurse in Utah.
According to the affidavit, there were four separate applications under Lierd’s name to become a registered nurse and all were denied. One of the denied applications listed Lierd as a graduate of Nightingale College of Nursing with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 2015.
Authorities searched databases from four states where Lierd was associated and failed to find a record of Lierd being a nurse practitioner or a registered nurse. Another search with Nursys, a national database of nurse licenses, also showed no results of Lierd being a registered nurse anywhere in the U.S.
“From Sep. 10, 2020, to (Sept. 15), (Lierd) misrepresented herself as a licensed registered nurse, medical doctor, and nurse practitioner,” the affidavit stated. “(Lierd) falsely stated that she held a position with the United Nations and was featured on BBC News.”
Lierd also falsely claimed she was a business owner who had founded several multi-million dollar companies.
According to the affidavit, Exitus raised over $1,600,000 since 2020 due to Lierd’s misleading and false information she made. CR House & Company entered two business contracts totaling over $8,000 and $29,600 in unsettled payments.
Authorities also cite Lierd’s continued misleading as she gave a video presentation for the BYU Anti-Human Trafficking Club and handled controlled substances in medical kits to provide care to multiple Ukraine orphans while being transported to the U.S.
According to the affidavit, Lierd forged multiple documents that identified her as a nurse from the Utah Department of Professional Licensing and MountainStar St. Mark’s Hospital.
Authorities issued a search warrant on a laptop belonging to Exitus that “held photographs of a Utah (driver’s license), a black and white U.S. passport, full-color U.S. passport, and U.S. passport card” of Lierd. The two passports had different serial numbers and dates of birth.
In three interviews with people closely associated with Lierd, they told authorities she had the ability to forge passports, checks and bank records.
The affidavit stated that Lierd had hundreds of thousands of missing money from the Exitus bank account and several suspicious purchases from 2020 to 2023.