Looking for a Brilliant Idea

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When the word ”brilliant” comes to mind, other synonyms such as clever, intelligent, talented, wise and smart often follow. These are usually not terms associated with criminals. (Words like deplorable, illegal, villain and crooked seem more appropriate.) According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, a father and son team operated multiple education companies, which offered tutoring services to help underprivileged students excel and allegedly provided a front for stealing more than $33 million in federal grants from school districts across the country.

The story states that the 58-year-old father and his 34-year-old son have been charged with paying bribes to school officials in two states to redirect federal and state funds from school districts and to recruit students. Prosecutors allege the two pocketed between $8 million and $13.6 million in funds collected from approximately 200 school districts across the U.S. According to the indictment, the two fabricated and distributed fake student progress reports and falsely inflated company invoices sent to school districts for purported tutoring services.

Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of $33 million from the father, son and the two companies. The article reports that, if convicted, the two men may also lose their residences, three condominiums, five luxury vehicles, six life insurance policies and a collection of diamond jewelry.

Both men are currently charged with mail fraud and federal program bribery. In addition, an educational administrator, an assistant principal, a tutoring coordinator and a high school official were also indicted on one count each of bribery. It is critical to point out that none of the individuals have been convicted of a crime. They are presumed innocent and deserve their day in court.

Still, the case is instructive. The facts are plausible, and could be happening anywhere at any time. So, here’s a question for you: how would your jurisdiction prevent the type of fraud alleged here? Got any ”brilliant” ideas?

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Suburban Father, Son Charged with Education Fraud,” written by Jason Meisner and published in the Chicago Tribune on April 28, 2014.

A father and son who run education companies based in suburban Niles defrauded more than $33 million in federal grants from school districts across the country by misrepresenting the tutoring services they purportedly provided to low-income students, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors alleged that the two also paid bribes to school officials in Texas and New Mexico in exchange for recruiting students and steering federal and state funds from school districts. The bribes included Caribbean cruise vacations, meals and ”services at a gentlemen’s club,” according to an indictment returned last week.


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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.