A woman from St. Louis, Missouri on Monday pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud and admitted committing both check fraud and pandemic fraud.
Nikia A. French, 30, admitted to recruiting people on Instagram who were willing to let French use their bank accounts. French created counterfeit checks, deposited them in the accounts to which she had access, and then watched until the bank made the money available. She then withdrew 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.
In the pandemic fraud scheme, French submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications in April of 2021, seeking a total of about $23,000 as a self-employed person. She falsely inflated her gross income, submitted false documents, and lied about not having been convicted of a felony involving fraud in the last five years. She used the money at restaurants and clothing stores and took some out in cash, according to her plea agreement.
At her August 4 sentencing, French could face up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, or both.
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 U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.