The Importance of a Business Plan

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As a business owner, it’s important to provide a sense of direction for your company.  A well-written business plan can help you measure and guide your company goals to success.

However, for Sterling Educational Consulting, that direction was not clear to the U.S.Federal District court. On March 16th, 2022. Elliot Sterling was convicted of defrauding the U.S.  federal student loan system, between 2017 to 2019, of more than $1.4 million USD in an elaborate scheme that involved fraudulent identities and impersonators to get financial aid monies he then pocketed, and then submitted a bogus application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes!  Two frauds!

For Sterling Educational Consulting, it didn’t matter that most of the customers were students who did not have high school diplomas, did not qualify for federal financial aid, or may have even be incarcerated.    With each name, he would apply fake addresses, personal information, and documents to create a fully qualified student for enrollment and financial aid.  Upon acceptance to the college, he himself would go to campus and turn in the documents at the financial aid office.  Now that is customer service!

Unknown to these students, Sterling kept his name concealed from the applications and created unique email addresses for each “student”/”client.  Sterling would go onto use their information and sign up for student loans, signing the master promissory notes in their names, making them responsible to repay the full amount.  He would also manage their accounts on BankMobile, the banking service Baton Rouge Community College used to process financial aid.

However, business can slow down during a pandemic, and any good fraudster can’t have that.  In 2020, Sterling applied to the U.S.  government with falsified business revenues and costs.  Because of these false statements, Mr. Sterling received a $90,000 loan for him to pay the operating costs of his “business” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To the bitter end of the trial Sterling was adamant that he did not commit any crime and maintained his innocence.  He is quoted as saying “I was paid for my service.  My service was to help with the enrollment process because the average student doesn’t understand the enrollment process.”  Maybe Elliot Sterling should consider some MBA classes while he sits in jail for the next couple of decades.

Special shout out to the FBI for acting on the alert from BankMobile, , the special agents from the Department of Ed Office of Inspector General and Baton Rouge Community College for working openly with the U.S. federal government agencies.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, posted in the New York Times, March 19. 2022

Man Posing as Students Convicted in $1.4 Million Loan Scheme

By Amanda Holpuch

A Louisiana man was convicted on Wednesday of defrauding the federal student loan system of more than $1.4 million in an elaborate scheme that involved posing as students and hiring impersonators to get financial aid he then pocketed.

The man, Elliott Sterling, of Baton Rouge, obtained grants and loans intended for 180 students by using their personal information to fill out federal financial aid applications and enroll them in classes at Baton Rouge Community College from September 2017 to November 2019, prosecutors said.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.