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Victim turned victimizer: Prison for Minnesota woman whose pandemic aid and romance schemes snared $1.8M

Star Tribune

A Minnesota woman is going to prison for her role in a global fraud scheme that first duped her and then scammed others around the country out of more than $1.8 million through romance fraud schemes and pandemic aid programs.

Gayle J. Ferngren, 70, of Rush City, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to 1¾ years in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud in connection with her transfer of most of the ill-gotten money to co-conspirators in far-flung locales, such as Egypt and South Africa.

Ferngren's sentence set by Judge John Tunheim includes orders to perform 100 hours of community service and repay $1.76 million to victims. Once her prison time is up, Ferngren will be on supervised release for two years.

Prosecutors argued ahead of sentencing for Ferngren to receive a two-year prison term, well below the federal guideline sentence of 4¼ to 5¼ years.


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