ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis woman appeared in federal court Monday and admitted to committing bank fraud and pandemic loan fraud in 2021 and 2022.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Nikia French, 30, recruited people on the social media app Instagram to let her use their bank accounts. French would create counterfeit checks, deposit them into said accounts, then withdraw the money before the bank noticed the checks were no good.

French ran her scam between February and April 2022. She deposited more than $73,000 in checks, and withdrew more than $34,000 in cash.

In April 2021, French submitted a pair of Paycheck Protection Program loan applications, asking for a total of $23,000. She identified as self-employed, but lied about her gross income and submitted fake documents to conceal her fraud. She also lied about not being convicted of a felony involving fraud.

She’d previously been sentenced to a year and a day in prison in a 2019 bank fraud case, and ordered to repay nearly $62,000.

French told the court she used the PPP funds at restaurants and clothing stores, and keeping some of it in cash.

French pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud. She’ll be sentenced on Aug. 4, and faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.