Going to Great Lengths

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Criminals often go to great lengths to fraudulently obtain money. An article posted on WKYC.com tells the story of a couple who ran an elaborate scheme involving fake high school diplomas, undeserved financial aid and a college operated by the man and his wife.

The article reports that the couple co-founded a college where the husband served as the dean and director of education and the wife handled financial matters. For nearly five years, the couple was able to bilk approximately $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education by applying for student financial aid funds for some of their students, who did not have a valid high school diploma. (How could you possibly be enrolled in college if you didn’t graduate from high school?)

The couple recruited students for their college by offering a valid high school diploma to those who did not possess a valid diploma or G.E.D. certificate in exchange for attending the college. Prospective students also were falsely told that their diploma would be paid for by a scholarship.

According to court documents, the deceptive couple used online high schools to purchase fake high school diplomas and transcripts for students who did not attend any classes nor complete any coursework. (The more students the couple enrolled, the more student financial aid funds the institution received.)

The story states that the couple used the illegally-gained funds to pay off other college employees. They also purchased vehicles, cruises and jewelry including wedding bands for the couple’s daughter’s wedding.

The 65-year-old man was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison, while his 63-year-old wife was sentenced to five years and five months in prison. They also were ordered to pay more than $2.3 million restitution.

This case goes to show that the longer the lengths a criminal goes to defraud, the longer the prison sentence. It seems like it would have been much more lucrative to just get a real job in the first place.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Canton Couple Behind Bars for Student Loan Fraud Scheme,” posted on WKYC.com on March 12, 2015.

CANTON, Ohio — A Canton couple was sentenced to prison for defrauding the U.S. Department of Education out of more than $2.3 million.

An investigation revealed the couple used fake high school diplomas to apply for financial aid for prospective students on their behalf and then enrolled them in a college that the couple operated.

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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.