A Salt Lake woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to selling false negative COVID-19 tests to travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport in 2021. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to selling false negative COVID-19 tests at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Linda Tufui Toli, 28, pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Toli’s potential prison term will likely range from zero to three months, according to a pre-plea statement from Toli filed Wednesday.
Toli used his position at a company called XpresCheck — which offered testing for COVID-19 at airports — to hijack XpresCheck’s business and sell the counterfeit coronavirus tests for his own profit, according to the plea statement. The scheme took place between July and September 2021, which included Toli’s sale of “counterfeit negative COVID-19 test results to air travelers for under-the-table payments,” the plea statement said.
Initial billing documents indicate that Toli would intercept calls from travelers trying to schedule COVID-19 tests. Toli would then cancel their appointments via XpresCheck and instead sell travelers the counterfeit negative test. Prosecutors accused Toli of knowing the tests were bogus.
Toli would ask travelers to send money directly to him through apps like Cash App and Venmo, depending on the upfront fee. She then explained to travelers how to upload the fake results online in order to be allowed to fly.
Toli specifically pleaded guilty to the underlying allegations in the wire fraud count, which alleged that Toli asked a traveler to send him $200 via Venmo in early September. Toli admitted to sending a “forged test result even though I knew (the traveler) had not actually been tested for COVID-19 by XpresCheck,” according to the plea statement. Toli also admitted to telling the traveler how to upload the form to a government website so the traveler could visit Hawaii.
The charge against Toli was highlighted in a nationwide law enforcement effort announced by the US Department of Justice in April that was aimed at cracking down on fraud related to COVID-19.
Toli, who is not being held in jail while her case is pending, is due in court in July for her sentencing hearing.