SW Va. woman to plead guilty to $669,000 unemployment scheme

Farren Ricketts
Farren Ricketts

ABINGDON, Va. — A southwestern Virginia woman is expected to plead guilty next week to charges related to another unemployment fraud case — this one being the largest yet.

Farren Ricketts, 30, of Jonesville, has signed a plea agreement, admitting to conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

She admitted applying for unemployment benefits for herself and her husband, even though neither was eligible for them. She also began filing for claims for friends, then set up a fake company and started advertising to offer “assistance” with filing unemployment claims.

She first charged clients a flat fee of $1,000, before raising it to $2,000, then $3,000. Ultimately, she scrapped the flat fee and began taking 32 percent of each client’s weekly earnings.

She also began filing for claims for inmates serving long sentences in Virginia and Tennessee who were unaware of the scheme, and kept all of that money.

Ricketts began filing so many claims, she was unable to do it by herself and had to hire at least six employees to file for the weekly claims.

In all, the scheme is alleged to have resulted in at least $669,000 in fraudulent claims being paid.

Ricketts is scheduled to plead guilty in federal court in Abingdon on Monday.