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Woman convicted in $3.7M scheme

ATLANTA -- A federal jury in Atlanta convicted a Hoschton woman of playing a key role in a scheme that bilked more than three dozen entrepreneurs of $3.7 million.

Katherine Twigg, 48, was convicted Friday on three counts of wire fraud and conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. The jury deliberated for five hours before declaring Twigg guilty, officials said.

During Twigg's four-day trial, prosecutors said Twigg worked with two co-conspirators as a recruiter and reference point for an advance-fee scheme.

For four years beginning in January 2004, Twigg prowled the Internet for small business owners and entrepreneurs needing a jolt of venture capital to get their business ideas off the ground.

Twigg helped lure more than three dozen victims to Atlanta, promising to help fund their projects through a consortium of private investors. As a precondition, the victims were required to pay nonrefundable, advance expenses and fees, according to Sally Q. Yates, Acting U.S. Attorney.

Twigg also served as a reference, purporting herself as the owner of "Atlanta Health and Fitness" which she claimed had obtained $2 million in such funding.

Testimony at trial showed no victim received any funding. All incoming monies served only as personal enrichment for Twigg and her cohorts, Yates said.

An Atlanta man, Anthony Tobin, 52, pleaded guilty to organizing the scheme and testified against Twigg last week, authorities said.

Twigg's sentencing hearing is scheduled Feb. 17 in federal court. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million on each count. Tobin's sentencing is pending.

A third co-defendant, Eyal Dulin, 40, of Snellville, remains a fugitive, possibly in South Africa, authorities said.