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Press Release

St. Louis County Woman Admits Role in Romance, Work-At-Home Scams

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A woman from St. Louis County has admitted participating in romance and work-at-home scams and agreed to repay $95,350 to seven victims.

As part of a civil consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White Wednesday, Sharon Nickl, 83, admitted that between Sept. 21, 2020 and May 20, 2021, she received U.S. Postal Service and commercial package deliveries of more than $690,000 that had been sent from individuals she did not know. The money was sent from victims who believed they were assisting their online paramours or had been hired to work from home.

Nickl, a victim herself of a romance fraud scheme, began participating after she depleted her own financial accounts and the proceeds from the sale of her home. Nickl then began operating as a “money mule” by transferring the money she received to the person she thought was her own online paramour by using bitcoin machines and purchasing gift cards and prepaid debit cards.

Nickl was not criminally charged.

According to U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming, “As in every case brought to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s office, we consider a variety of factors when determining whether to employ civil, criminal, or administrative remedies in addressing romance fraud schemes. Because Nickl had minimal law enforcement contact prior to her receipt of money from others, did not benefit personally from the scheme and became engaged in the scheme through her online paramour, this office and Nickl requested entry of a civil consent decree that required Nickl to adhere to conditions that included making restitution to the identified victims, submitting to computer monitoring and supervision by the Federal Pretrial Services Office and participating in an online support group for romance fraud victims.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case.

Updated October 27, 2022

Financial Fraud