organizer of a conspiracy that defrauded the care law of over $ 1.5 million in unemployment benefits sentenced to 10 years in prison | USAO-WDVA
ABINGDON, Virginia – A woman from Jonesville, Virginia, who admitted to leading a conspiracy that defrauded the government of more than $ 1.5 million in unemployment benefits related to the pandemic, was today sentenced to 10 years federal prison and ordered to pay compensation.
Farren Gaddis Ricketts, 31, and his co-conspirators concocted a scheme to collect personally identifiable information and then submit unemployment claims to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) website]for people known to be ineligible pandemic unemployment benefits, including various inmates in Virginia Department of Corrections facilities.
According to court documents, Ricketts developed a business entity called “Ricketts Advisory, LLC”, registered it with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and marketed itself as a financial services company that helped file unemployment claims in pandemic case.
In addition to receiving unemployment benefits herself, Ricketts has charged more than 120 of her co-conspiratorial “clients” fees for the service of filing their fraudulent claims.
Between May 2020 and February 2021, Ricketts and his co-conspirators filed more than 150 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in the event of a pandemic. For many of these deposits, Ricketts created fraudulent documents to support the claims, including fraudulent IRS forms claiming to show pre-pandemic income.
“When Congress provided much needed financial assistance to those affected by COVID-19, Farren Ricketts led a criminal conspiracy to steal more than $ 1.5 million in unemployment benefits related to the pandemic,” said today hui US Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh. “My Office will continue to lead efforts to prosecute those who have stolen money destined for those in legitimate need, and today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense and the impact it has had.” on our communities. I thank the IRS, DOL-OIG, the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, and the Norton Police Department for their work in this important investigation.
âRicketts not only defrauded taxpayers herself, but she also helped dozens of other criminals line their pockets with unemployment benefits for those who really needed it,â said Darrell Waldon, Special Agent in charge of IRS-CI, Washington DC field office. âOur Special Agents will continue to prosecute COVID-19 fraud and ensure those who commit it are brought to justice. “
âFarren Ricketts and his co-conspirators took advantage of fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims they filed for people they knew were ineligible for PUA benefits. As part of the program, Ricketts used his financial services company, Ricketts Advisory, LLC., To manage the filing of fraudulent claims and to create fraudulent documents in support of the claims. The Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor is grateful for our partnerships with the Virginia Employment Commission and our many law enforcement partners. We also thank the United States Attorney’s Office for its continued efforts to prosecute those who violate public interest programs and commit fraud, âsaid Syreeta Scott, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia area, office of the United States. Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor.
The ongoing investigation is being led by the Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Review Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Russell County Sheriff’s Office and the Norton Police Department in Wise County are investigating the case.
Assistant US Attorney Daniel J. Murphy is pursuing the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.