Facing Fraud

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According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly $11 billion was spent on more than 10 million cosmetic procedures during 2012. How far will someone go to fund the cost of these procedures (which cost a mint)? United Press International (UPI) posted a story about a Pittsburgh woman, who committed student loan fraud in order to pay for a series of surgeries that altered her appearance. The multiple surgeries came with a high price tag – approximately $300,000 and a prison term.

The article states that the Pennsylvania woman suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a mental illness that causes people to be preoccupied with an imaginary physical defect that others often cannot see. Supposedly, this condition drove her to apply for $600,000 in student loans to cover the costs for the extensive operations to alter her appearance. According to court records, the 36-year-old used her parents’ identities to solicit the student loans. (She got 600k by stealing her parents’ identities right out from under their unaltered noses?) She used half for cosmetic surgeries (I wonder if she got a nose job?) and the other half for various expenses.

It appears that the judge didn’t fall for the BDD diagnosis since about half of the fraudulently gained student loan funds were spent on miscellaneous expenses. The fraudster pleaded guilty to bank and mail fraud and will serve 15 months in prison followed by a five-year probationary period upon her release. She was also ordered to pay the federal government $632,613 in restitution. (That judge rocks!)

There aren’t too many mirrors in prison, so perhaps the fraudster can take a break from the obsessive need to constantly analyze her outward appearance. While serving time in prison, she’s have the opportunity to become more introspective about the insecurities that drive her compulsion to commit fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on the article titled, ”Women Gets Prison for Student Loan Fraud,” published by UPI on November 19, 2013.

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 19 (UPI) — A Pennsylvania woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison after fraudulently soliciting $600,000 in student loans mainly used to pay for cosmetic surgeries.

Meredith Shuster, 36, of Cranberry, Pa., a suburb north of Pittsburgh, used her parents’ identities to solicit the loans. She then used about half the money on a series of cosmetic surgeries to alter her appearance, prosecutors said. The other half went toward myriad personal expenses, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.