The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California recently unsealed indictments which charged 17 individuals for participating in a financial aid fraud ring. The fraud ring allegedly targeted 15 California schools and netted $770,000.
Prosecutors allege that the fraud ring members zeroed in on the online programs of small community colleges throughout California and then used a variety of tactics—including stealing the identities of legitimate students as well as enrolling themselves, accomplices, and prison inmates—to secure illegitimate financial aid, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported. In one case the defendants are alleged to have stolen the identities of individuals so severely disabled that they were unable to read or write.
The indictments come amidst an increased law enforcement and legislative focus aimed at cracking down on financial-aid fraud, either by arresting the so-called “Pell Runners” or by structuring financial aid disbursements in order to create a disincentive.
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