Subject to Detention

51517785 - padlock and social security card - identity theft and identity protection concept

It’s back to school time. Children and people of all ages are headed to learning institutions across the nation to increase their knowledge, some more willingly than others. An article published in The Annandale Patch tells about a man and a woman who were eager for school to start, but for different reasons than you might expect. They posed as students attending four different community colleges in order to obtain approximately $67,000 in federal student aid.

The story provides details into the fraudulent escapades of two Louisiana residents—a man and a woman—who used the stolen identities of four victims to accomplish their scheme. (At the time their identities were used, three of the victims were in prison and one was recovering from wounds sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.)

The two fraudsters used their victims’ names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to apply for financial aid at community colleges located in Virginia, Colorado, Oregon and South Dakota. But for communication purposes, the two gave their own addresses, emails and telephone numbers to make sure that inquiries from the Department of Education and any of the four community colleges would be directed to them. (Recorded phone conversations involving the male fraudster revealed that he was impersonating his victims when calling for an update on financial aid from one of the learning institutions.) As a result, the two pretend students were able to receive about $67,000 in federal student aid in the names of their victims.

The 31-year-old man and 34-year-old woman both pleaded guilty to charges involving the use of stolen identities to obtain federal student loans. They both face a minimum of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft and a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy when sentenced. (In that amount of time, they could have graduated with both an undergraduate and graduate degree.)

These criminals need to study up on how to be law abiding citizens. (Student loans are meant for people who want to better themselves and have improved job prospects, not prospectors digging for some extra cash.) It remains to be seen if these two will be headed to prison for their illegal actions, but one thing is for certain, it would have definitely been easier to hit the books and play by the rules. (Let’s hope that the sentence handed down will teach them a valuable lesson—those who take undeserved benefits are subject to detention.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Two Plead Guilty to Student Loan Fraud Scheme Targeting Northern Virginia Community College,” published by The Annandale Patch on July 15, 2016.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Two Louisiana residents have pled guilty to a loan fraud scheme involving Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale.

Ernest Xavier Taylor, Jr., 31, and Tracie Laverne Mixon, 34, both of Hammond, Louisiana, have pleaded guilty to charges relating to unlawfully using the identities of four people to fraudulently obtain federal student loans from Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) and other schools, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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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.