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Virginia woman used inmate names to help $700k pandemic relief scheme

A Virgina woman stole nearly $700,000 in pandemic relief funds — using the personal information of unsuspecting prison inmates to help her scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Farren Ricketts, 30, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to defraud the government from May 2020 to February 2021 by filing over 100 fake pandemic unemployment benefit claims, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Virginia.

As part of the scheme, Ricketts created a state-registered business that billed itself as a financial services company that provided help with completing pandemic unemployment claims, the feds said.

Ricketts even filed fraudulent claims for her husband, who in actuality was ineligible to receive the payments, prosecutors said.

Many of the claims were also accompanied by doctored IRS forms that falsely reported pre-pandemic income, according to prosecutors.

Ricketts pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of mail fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Her sentencing is scheduled for October 29.

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