Life Lessons

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Life can teach some hard lessons. The bottom line is that life can be difficult, especially when an individual continues to make bad decisions. A Euclid, Ohio woman was recently taught a very hard life lesson when caught for committing student loan fraud. Through an elaborate scheme that involved eight years of bad decisions, she was able to steal $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education. (Eight years of poor choices got her nine-and-a half years behind bars.)

You could say that the Euclid woman had a passion for learning. (That passion for learning was directed toward finding out multiple ways to defraud the government agency responsible for doling out financial aid to qualified students.) The Ohio fraudster conspired with others to illegally obtain financial aid on behalf of many students who had no intention of attending college.

Obviously, you know that the Ohio fraudster and her co-conspirators were only interested in the scheme for the money. (No surprise there.) She masterminded the scheme that used the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to enroll her co-conspirators in community colleges. She also applied for financial aid on their behalf, securing loans, Pell grants plus and other grants. (Some of the students she enrolled and obtained loans for didn’t even have a high school diploma or GED. They were ineligible to receive the financial aid in the first place.)

Once the Department of Education approved the financial aid and grant requests, the money was sent directly to the colleges where the students were enrolled. Any excess money was forwarded by the school to the students via a check or debit card to addresses controlled by the mastermind. (Sneaky, eh?)

In total, the school loan scammer divided $1.8 million in proceeds from the financial aid with her recruiters and the individuals who posed as students. (She made extra money by charging the “students” fees to complete their academic coursework — $1,000 for two courses, $1,500 for three courses and $2,000 for four courses.) The one-stop shop for student loan fraud also charged $500 to make fake GED certificates, high school diploma transcripts or other false documents that were needed to show satisfactory academic progress required for financial aid eligibility.

The 45-year-old woman from Euclid, Ohio confessed to eight years of bad decisions when she pleaded guilty to student loan fraud in addition to conspiracy, wire and mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. She was sentenced to 114 months in prison and must pay $1.9 million in restitution.

It’s important to note that today’s fraudster also had a previous brush with the law over a Section 8 housing fraud scheme that lasted five years during the same time frame the student loan fraud scheme was going on. (Apparently, she didn’t learn her lesson from that experience and was hoping to be successful with her side student loan hustle.)  Sometimes it takes more than one visit to a principal’s office or to a judge for that matter to make an impact. (Let’s hope that this repeat offender has finally learned an important life lesson – if you commit a crime, you will eventually be caught and punished.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Euclid woman sentenced to prison in education fraud scheme involving LCCC, other colleges,” published by The Morning Journal on February 20, 2019.  

A Euclid woman will spend more than nine years behind bars for fraudulently enrolling students into Ohio community colleges – including Lorain County Community College – to defraud the U.S. Department of Education out of $1.8 million, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Basheera Perry, 45, was sentenced to 114 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $1.9 million in restitution.

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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.