There’s a Screwy New Twist in Case of Accused TikTok Stalker

The case of an accused Ponzi schemer with a TikTok habit has taken another wild turn.

Wannabe financial guru Michael French, 40, was first accused of running a $20 million scam to fund his lavish lifestyle. Then came his arrest for allegedly stalking a woman he met on social media. Now, French is facing new charges, with authorities saying he forged a slew of FBI letters in an attempt to silence a woman he was allegedly harassing online after she dumped him.

“We at the FBI understand that you have had an incredibly difficult few weeks due to the alleged harassment and threats that you claim are being done by Mr. French,” read a July 10 letter purported to be from Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic.

“I understand this will likely cause you discomfort and possibly relief at the same time, but I can certify that Mr. French is not responsible for any harassment or threats toward yourself or any other creators or viewed on any social media platforms.”

Federal prosecutors say Ferensic had nothing to do with the laughably worded letter, and French was charged this month with interstate transmission of threatening communications and cyberstalking and is locked up in Anderson City Jail in South Carolina, where he is from.

French’s downward spiral began in April 2020, when he began using two of his lending companies to sell high-yield promissory notes across the country, according to court papers. A complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission said that he was selling the notes without formal financial training or experience and had crafted a “financial-guru persona on TikTok” under the handle @moneyjustflows.

TikTok Stalker Used Millions From His Ponzi Scheme to Live Large, Feds Say

He promised a 12 percent return in just one year through a low-risk investment program—but “in reality, the investment was a sham,” the SEC claimed. It contends investors’ funds were funneled to French’s company bank account and used to bankroll such expenditures as $650,000 worth of luxury cars and thousands worth of TikTok “coins” used to support creators on the app.

In total, he “misappropriated at least $13.2 million of investor proceeds to make Ponzi payments to earlier investors and to pay for his personal expenses,” the SEC alleged. The racket started crumbling, the SEC said, when French’s company began defaulting on its interest and principal obligations.

He allegedly stopped communicating with investors, sold most of his cars, and put his homes on the market. Around that time, in the fall of 2022, French met a New Jersey woman online and began a long-distance relationship.

When she went to South Carolina to stay with him, she learned he was under investigation by the SEC, broke up with him, and went back to New Jersey in June.

From that day on, prosecutors allege, French waged a vile harassment campaign against the woman and her family at various phone numbers and social media accounts. He used aliases to join her TikTok live streams and posted “disparaging remarks such as, ‘Daddy fucker,’” the complaint alleged. She went to the police and was granted a temporary restraining order.

About a month into the harassment, the woman received an overnight UPS package from South Carolina containing a letter in the name of Lucas Asper, an attorney who once represented French’s company.

It claimed French’s social media accounts had been hacked, that the hackers were harassing the woman, and that authorities were investigating.

“We have been notified this week that all charges and all matters related to Michael French are going away,” the letter said. (Asper denied The Daily Beast’s request for comment but told the feds he did not write the letters.)

The package included two dummied-up FBI letters—the first addressed to French and stating that he was “released from criminal investigation” and “granted permission by all parties to act civilly to defend his character against individuals that have defamed his character as a person as well as a business owner.” The second stated that French and his daughter were “victims of slander, libel, defamation of character, harassment, attempted sexual assault, and attempted murder.” In addition to those three letters, which the FBI determined were bogus, investigators found six others dated between June 2022 and March 2023 inside French’s car.

Remarkably, prosecutors say, French continued to harass the woman.

“I’m going to kill your family instead of you so you have to live with the rest of your life knowing you caused their death,” one Aug. 2, 2023, text traced to him read, according to the complaint. “You’re going to live your life knowing you killed 6-8 people. You don’t get paid for anything. You’re a recycler. Your business sucks. You don’t have a team. You’re fucking embarrassing.”

Days later, on Aug. 18, French was arrested at a South Carolina hotel after an armed stand-off with a SWAT team, during which he threatened to hurt himself, authorities say.

French also faces another stalking case in Florida. According to Fort Myers police, a woman told investigators she met him through TikTok and began speaking French on a professional basis to help him “become a better manager in his business,” the report states. Soon, French began sending her upwards of $1,000 a day in TikTok “coin.”

But the woman said the relationship took a dark turn when he began claiming they were in a romantic relationship, calling her for various numbers, showing up at her home, and threatening to kill himself, the police report says. French was arrested on Feb. 28 outside the woman’s house.

It appears this woman is a different person from the New Jersey woman he met on TikTok, but federal prosecutors, the FBI, Fort Myers Police, and French’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. French has pleaded not guilty to the Florida charges.

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