Woman sentenced to 10 years in prison after receiving $1.5 million in fraudulent relief funds


Virginia woman sentenced to 10 years in prison after receiving more than $1.5 million in fraudulent COVID relief funds

According to a release from investigators, a woman in Jonesville, Virginia, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Friday after being found guilty with more than $1.5 million in CARES Act money.

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According to the Attorney's Office for the District of West Virginia, Farren J. Ricketts, 31, was charged with a scheme to "collect personal identification information and then file unemployment claims with the Virginia Employment Commission."

The statement says that Ricketts created "Rickets Advisory, LLC" and fraudulently used it to charge services to persons eligible for relief before using the information submitted to the office to defraud the United States government.

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The statement also says that Ricketts and the conspirators have filed more than 150 separate claims for unemployment benefits, many of which were filed with false documents.

"When Congress provided much-needed financial assistance to those affected by COVID-19, Varennes Ricketts led a criminal plot to steal more than $1.5 million in pandemic-related unemployment benefits," US Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said. "My office will continue to lead efforts to prosecute those who stole funds intended for those in legitimate need, and today's ruling reflects the gravity of this crime and its impact on our communities."

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The investigation is reportedly ongoing and is run by the Department of Labor, the Internal Review Service (IRS), the Russell County Sheriff's Office, and the Norton Police Department.

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