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Press Release

St. Louis Woman Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Bank and Pandemic Fraud

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

ST. LOUIS – A woman from St. Louis, Missouri was sentenced Monday to 37 months in prison for committing both check fraud and pandemic fraud.

U.S. District Judge John A. Ross also ordered Nikia A. French, 30, to repay $57,173.

French pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud in March and admitted recruiting people on Instagram who were willing to let French use their bank accounts.  French created counterfeit checks, deposited them in the accounts and withdrew the money or made debit card purchases before the bank learned that the checks were bogus.

Between February 2022 and April 2022, French deposited or attempted to deposit counterfeit checks totaling at least $73,515 and received at least $34,109 in proceeds. 

French also submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications in April of 2021, seeking a total of about $23,000. She falsely inflated her gross income and submitted false documents to obtain the loans. She used the money at restaurants and clothing stores and took some out in cash.

French lied on the applications when she said she had not been convicted of a felony involving fraud in the last five years. In a 2019 bank fraud case, French was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to repay nearly $62,000. The fraud then was nearly identical to what French did in 2022, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow said in a sentencing memo.

Clow also pointed out that the first fraudulent PPP loan application was submitted about six months after French was released from prison. French exploited the pandemic for personal gain, at the expense of small businesses and employees who were at risk of losing their jobs, he wrote. 

“Today’s sentence brings to a conclusion an investigation that began with one stolen check, and ultimately led to Postal Inspectors uncovering the defendant’s involvement in multiple fraud schemes,” said Inspector in Charge Ruth Mendonça who leads the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, which includes the St. Louis Field Office.  “The defendant will now be held accountable for the thousands of dollars she obtained through various criminal enterprises.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.

Updated August 22, 2023

Financial Fraud