A Salt Lake City woman charged with wire fraud has pleaded guilty to selling fake COVID-19 tests to travelers. The 28-year-old woman, who worked for a COVID testing company, could face up to 3 months in jail.
Earlier this year, Linda Tufui Toli, a 28-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, was charged with wire fraud, after being accused of selling fake COVID-19 test results to travelers. According to a report by KSL, Tufui Toli worked at the Salt Lake City Airport at a testing company called XpresCheck which provided testing services for travelers heading to destinations that required negative results before entry – places such as Hawaii.
Apparently, Tufui Toli, would intercept calls to XpresCheck from folks wanting to schedule a testing appointment, and cancel their appointment so that she could sell a counterfeit COVID test result to the traveler. The traveler would then be instructed to use payment apps like CashApp or Venmo to pay a few hundred dollars for the fraudulent result. Tufui Toli’s scheme appears to have been from July 2021 to September 2021.
The scheme even went so far as to explain to the traveler how to upload fake results to destination websites for verification.
Tufui Toli’s day in court arrived earlier this week where she ultimately plead guilty to wire fraud. She returns to court in July for sentencing and according to a KSL report, could face between 0 to 3 months in jail.
She remains free on her own recognizance pending final sentencing.
The case highlights a concerted effort by the United States Justice Department to clamp down on COVID-19-related fraud including fake vaccination cards. Earlier this year, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr., had this to say following the announcement of charges against 21 defendants across the country accused of criminal acts that netted $149 million dollars in fraudulent revenue:
“The Department of Justice’s Health Care Fraud Unit and our partners are dedicated to rooting out schemes that have exploited the pandemic. Today’s enforcement action reinforces our commitment to using all available tools to hold accountable medical professionals, corporate executives, and others who have placed greed above care during an unprecedented public health emergency.”
In the same release, Kevin Chambers, the Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, noted:
“This COVID-19 health care fraud enforcement action involves extraordinary efforts to prosecute some of the largest and most wide-ranging pandemic frauds detected to date. The scale and complexity of the schemes prosecuted today illustrates the success of our unprecedented interagency effort to quickly investigate and prosecute those who abuse our critical health care programs”