Woman pleads guilty to $669K unemployment scheme

Farren Ricketts
Farren Ricketts

ABINGDON, Va. — As expected, a southwestern Virginia woman pleaded guilty Monday to charges related to a nearly $700,000 unemployment scheme.

Farren Ricketts, 30, of Jonesville, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to defraud the United States. She admitted to filing more than 100 fraudulent unemployment claims for herself, family and friends, and then setting up a business to file fraudulent claims for clients for a fee.

She also admitted to using the personal information of prison inmates in Virginia and Tennessee to file unemployment claims for them without their knowledge.

“Defrauding the federal government of critical funds designed to assist those in need is unconscionable, particularly during a worldwide pandemic,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said. “It is also a federal crime with serious consequences. Along with our partners at the Department of Labor and IRS, we will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who stole from these vital programs and bring them to justice.”

The entire scheme resulted in more than $669,000 in fraudulent claims being paid.

Ricketts will be sentenced in October.