Admissions Fraud

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11153352 - student loan application form and mini graduation cap

College admissions are competitive. (That’s why high school seniors are encouraged to apply to multiple schools with the hopes of getting into at least one of their favorites.) When a Carmel, Indiana woman applied to her favored university and got rejected, she committed student loan fraud by taking an indirect route that involved falsifying student applications and forging recommendation letters.

The young woman, who got rejected by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, had a plan to get there eventually by way of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She applied to the university, submitting a forged recommendation letter from a former high school teacher. (Lucky for her, she was accepted.)

During the second semester at Carnegie Mellon, the student applied for admission to Cornell as a transfer student. (Since forgery worked before, she tried it again here.) She submitted a bogus transcript that showed she had received a perfect 4.0 Qualified Point Average (QPA), when in reality she only received a 2.79 that semester. While she was at it, she included a fake high school transcript that also inflated her grades and another forged recommendation letter.

Once again, she got lucky and got into her first choice, Cornell. Starting in the Fall of the following year, she received more than $130,000 in financial aid, most of which came from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, Cornell provided tens of thousands of dollars through grants during her time as a student at the university.

After three years of attending Cornell, she started the process of applying for medical school with the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Once again, she submitted forged transcripts from Carnegie Mellon and Cornell along with her application. (Here’s where the admissions process went all wrong.)

AMCAS suspected she had submitted a fraudulent transcript and Cornell opened an internal investigation into the matter. (That’s when her previous admissions fraud attempts were discovered.) This lead to a confrontation by a university official and an admission that she had falsified her transfer application. (As you might guess, she was expelled.)

But, she didn’t let that stop her from getting into yet another school through fraudulent means – Indiana University-Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI). She applied to transfer, submitting more forged copies of her previous transcripts containing incorrect grades. The university not only admitted her, but gave her credit for multiple classes that she either did not take or did not pass at Cornell. Amazingly, seven years after this whole scam started, she was awarded with her Bachelor’s degree. And, it was revoked a year later after her fraudulent scam was revealed. (Easy come, easy go.)

 The 26-year-old Indiana woman pleaded guilty to one count of student loan fraud for accepting federal student loan money while attending Cornell. Her plea agreement recommends that the judge sentence her to five years of probation. During that time, she must disclose her plea agreement and criminal conviction to any university she attends while serving probation and on any financial aid applications. The recommendation also includes that she pay her outstanding financial aid balance of $70,145.81 as well as a $1,000 fine.

For someone who had great aspirations to study at several of the nation’s finest academic institutions, one may have thought she would have studied up a bit more on what would happen if she were caught committing student loan fraud. Everyone deserves a second chance, but this fraudster has already had three chances to be legit. Let’s hope she studies up on how to go about getting a college degree the proper way. (Perhaps if she had focused more on studying and less on fraud, she would have made good grades in the first place, eliminating the need to steal student loan funds she did not deserve.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Former Cornell Student Pleads Guilty to Student Loan Fraud after Trial of Forged Documents Uncovered,” published by The Ithaca Voice on October 19, 2017.

A former student at Cornell University has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of student loan fraud, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Cavya Chandra, 26, of Carmel, Ind., admitted she obtained admission to – and attended – three universities between 2008 and 2014 by forging various documents, including academic transcripts and letters of recommendation.

 

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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.