Report: Virginia woman sentenced to 10 years after receiving over $1.5 million in fraudulent COVID relief funds

Crime

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ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – A Jonesville, Virginia woman was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Friday after being convicted of defrauding the United States government of over $1.5 million in CARES Act funds, according to a release from investigators.

According to a press release from the Western District of Virginia US Attorney’s Office, Farren G. Ricketts, 31, was sentenced for a scheme to “gather personal identification information and then submit unemployment claims to the Virginia Employment Commission.”

The release says Ricketts created “Ricketts Advisory, LLC” and used it to fraudulently collect fees for services to people eligible for relief before using information submitted to the office to defraud the US government.

The release also says that Ricketts and co-conspirators filed over 150 separate claims for unemployment benefits, many of which were filed with falsified documents.

“When Congress provided much needed financial assistance for those impacted by COVID-19, Farren Ricketts led a criminal conspiracy to steal more than $1.5 million in pandemic-related unemployment benefits,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said. “My Office will continue to lead the effort to prosecute those who stole money intended for those in legitimate need, and today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense and the impact it had on our communities.”

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

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