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Press Release

Whitefish interior designer admits defrauding customers of approximately $900,000

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

MISSOULA — The owner of an interior design company in Whitefish today admitted charges in a scheme in which she defrauded customers of approximately $900,000 and used the money for personal expenses, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Jennifer Michele Helm, aka Jennifer Michele, 45, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to aggravated identity theft. Helm faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the fraud charge and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release for aggravated identity theft.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for March 14, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Helm was detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged that Helm, while doing business as Sage Interior Designs, LLC, Interior Design Services, and Jennifer Michele LLC, defrauded at least 12 customers of approximately $900,000 from 2016 through 2023. To execute the scheme, Helm entered into agreements with customers to provide goods and services, usually by promising to order furnishing and fixtures as part of construction and remodeling projects. In some instances, Helm presented her clients with invoices for items she knew she had not ordered and that clients never received. In addition, Helm convinced two clients, a married couple, to give her their credit card number, which she was authorized to make purchases on the couple’s behalf. Rather than make those purchases, Helm used the credit card and directed the proceeds of the transactions into her bank account. When interviewed by the FBI, Helm said she was responsible for any misspent funds. She also admitted she knew the money she obtained using the couple’s credit card was deposited into her personal bank account, but she did not remember how many unauthorized transactions she made with the card.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot is prosecuting the case. The FBI conducted the investigation.



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated November 7, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-421