Did you ever come home from school and have your parents ask you: “Did you learn anything today?” If so, they were probably attempting to teach you that we learn something new every day, whether that “new thing” is big or small, or barely recognizable. Today’s Fraud of the Day from CBS Arizona shows that four cohorts in Arizona may have learned a thing or two about committing fraud and its consequences.
Life lessons are often unpleasant, but in general, these lessons leave a person feeling better off than they initially were – having gained new insight on some facet of life. For four fraudsters in Arizona, the lessons they may have learned might not leave them feeling so enlightened; rather, they may now be thinking: “What was I doing?” (No one said learning was easy!)
The article reports that investigators discovered a pack of fraudsters targeting student aid programs. But, the fraudsters didn’t intend to use the funds to further their education…just to line their pockets. (I just got my illegal student aid check in the mail – let’s go shopping!) The scam, lead by one of the four defendants, bilked nearly $150,000 from the U.S. government.
The leader of the scam was found guilty of enrolling straw students in online college courses at an Arizona school and applying for aid using the straw student’s identity. (I wonder what the attendance and participation was like?) She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release, as well as repayment of $44,450 in restitution. Her cohort, taking a large part in the scam by collecting identities to submit, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and repayment of $11,972 in restitution. The other two fraudsters were sentenced to three and five years of probation for their involvement in providing student information to submit as straw students.
Some days we learn about math, some days we learn about the weather; but a lot of days, we just learn that common sense is not inherent. People believe there is ease in committing fraud, but here’s a word of advice: “stealing may be easy, but serving time isn’t.”