GULFPORT -- A woman from the Los Angeles area has admitted she used identities of two Jackson County residents to commit wire fraud as part of a global cybercrime ring's efforts.
Genoveva Farfan, 46, has pleaded guilty on three counts in a complex federal case involving losses of $6.5 million and at least seven ring leaders from around the world.
Farfan pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States.
She faces up to nine years in prison at her July 12 sentencing in U.S. District Court.
She is among 20 people indicted, including 11 from South Africa, in a probe of Internet-based mass-marketing schemes involving work-at-home and romance scams.
Farfan used the stolen identities in 2011 and 2013 after communicating with alleged ring leaders via email, court papers show. She provided identifying information to co-defendants, used the stolen IDs to make cash withdrawals from an ATM within a block of her home in Lynwood, Calif., and wired part of the money to a co-defendant in Pretoria, South Africa, the indictment said.
Homeland Security Investigations initiated the probe in 2011 after a Biloxi woman reported she was the victim of a sweetheart scam. The woman had received a bogus $3,000 check and a package. She was asked to re-ship the package to Pretoria and send part of the money to someone else, according to court testimony.
Investigators learned merchandise, including electronics, was being purchased with stolen identities and re-shipped overseas, where the items were being sold.
Meanwhile, the re-shipping was done by some who thought they were being paid to work at home, and others who had met someone on a dating website and believed they were doing a favor for their supposed sweethearts. Those who thought they were keeping a portion of money as payment learned they'd been paid with a worthless check.
The indictment was first filed in April 2014. It has been amended twice.
Farfan had been free on bond until Aug. 25, 2015. Her bond was revoked, court papers show, after she was found to have smoked meth.