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Woman going to prison over area bank fraud cases

Heather Harper, 38, of Knoxville, Tenn., was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Wednesday, June 8, in connection with her involvement in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

In December 2020, Harper conspired with others to cash stolen checks and fraudulently obtain funds from financial institutions using stolen IDs — including driver’s licenses — belonging to real individuals living in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The scheme targeted banks located in Southern Illinois and Missouri.

When she pleaded guilty, Harper admitted that her conspirators broke into vehicles in the St. Louis area to steal checkbooks and IDs belonging to various individuals.

Harper also admitted that her conspirators wrote checks from the stolen checkbooks made payable to other persons from whom the group had stolen identities. Harper went to banks around St. Louis and the Metro East and attempted to cash checks made payable to the persons whose identities had been stolen.

Harper often disguised herself to look like the individuals on the stolen IDs, using accessories such as wigs. Harper admitted that on Dec. 11, 2020, she successfully cashed a check made payable to a person whose identity had been stolen at First Bank in O’Fallon, Ill.

The investigation was conducted by local law enforcement agencies, including the O’Fallon (Ill.), Webster Groves, Shrewsbury, Maryland Heights, Des Peres, and St. Charles County Police Departments, along with the United States Secret Service, Fairview Heights Domicile Office of the Springfield Resident Office. Charges against Harper for defrauding banks in St. Louis County are still pending.

Assistant United States Attorney Zoe J. Gross prosecuted the case.

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