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Columbia woman pleads guilty in gift card scheme

Jun 30, 2011 7:32:00 AM - thestate.com
A Columbia woman has pleaded guilty to running a gift card scheme that left victims owed more than $1 million.

U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said 44-year-old Annette Marie Benson pleaded guilty in federal court in Columbia on Wednesday to wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie is expected to sentence Benson on Oct. 4. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors say Benson offered friends gift cards for at a discount of 20 percent to 50 percent. They say Benson was paying face value for the cards and was making up for the loss with money coming in for new cards.

Prosecutors say eventually the money Benson received could not cover her outstanding obligations, and scheme collapsed.

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