The One That Got Away

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11153352 - student loan application form and mini graduation cap

A report compiled by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General states that student aid fraud cost the federal government nearly $200 million between 2009 and 2012. Today’s fraud article states that student loan fraud is growing because of the increase in the number of schools that offer affordable online education programs. (In other words, these low-cost schools are an easy target.) A mentally disabled man from Central Florida is today’s student loan fraud victim. Unfortunately, today’s case does not end with a conviction or a prison sentence, but with a call for awareness so that you will not become a victim of this type of fraud.

Today’s article explains that today’s victim received multiple student loan overdue notices from a collection agency. The victim’s mother disregarded the notices because she knew that her son was not enrolled in an online higher education program due to intellectual difficulties. While the 38-year-old victim suffered more than 20 strokes during the first few months of his life, he did manage to graduate from high school with a special diploma. (It’s important to note that the man did not pursue higher education and currently works at a local grocery store as a bagger and at an interstate weigh station cleaning restrooms.)

As you might guess, the overdue student loan notices were not a hoax. Apparently, an unscrupulous individual or individuals used the victim’s name and Social Security number to qualify for a student loan so they could enroll in a private school with online education courses. Obviously, they were not interested in higher learning, just in collecting the government funds that were left over after the learning institution deducted tuition fees. The remaining funds are sent to the applicant to cover the costs for supplies, books and living expenses. (Most likely, the illegally gained government funds were used for fun stuff like travelling, high-end shopping or nice restaurants.)

The collection agency that kept sending overdue notices notified the victim’s mother that someone applied for student aid under her son’s name in 2014. According to the application, the victim lived in an apartment near the University of Florida in Gainesville. He actually lived with his family in Ocala. The application also had a phone number and email address listed that did not belong to her son. The paperwork listed two names as “friends,” but no parents or legal guardians were mentioned. (As you might guess, the phone numbers were not in service and no one by the names of the two friends listed lived at the addresses provided.)

In the meantime, while the online university and Department of Education are investigating the case, the victim is still stuck with the bill. Last year the Department of Treasury seized the man’s $276 income tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service and applied it to the loans outstanding balance of $2,197. And, recently the Department of Education notified the victim’s employers that the agency will withhold 15 percent of his income to further pay off the defaulted loan. In the meantime, the victim’s mother is disputing the claim with the collection agency.

No one has been caught for this crime yet, and so far it looks like this one got away. To prevent this type of crime happening to you, educate yourself by checking out this article on what to do if you suspect that your identity has been stolen.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Thief steals identity of man with disability to get student loan in his name, mom says,” posted on ClickOrlando.com on February 12, 2019.

OCALA, Fla. – A Central Florida mother believes someone stole the identity of her mentally challenged son to obtain student loans in his name.

Now the federal government is threatening to garnish Timothy Boisvert’s wages from his job as a supermarket clerk until the $2,197 debt is settled, records show. 

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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.