The Fraud is in the Details


Fraudsters usually take great care to bury their illegal actions within the minutia of a scheme, but ironically that is where the majority of mistakes are made. In an article published by the Ledger-Enquirer, a Georgia woman was able to hide the details of her crime involving a student loan and got away with stealing more than $100,000 from a student loan company and a financial institution.

The story states that the woman was employed as a temporary worker in the collections division of a financial corporation for seven months. During that time, she was able to access 97 accounts and complete 122 fraudulent transfers for a total value of $330,755. (Unfortunately, because she worked for a temporary staffing service, the woman did not go through the same security checks required of a regular employee at the financial institution. I’m guessing this incident spurred some changes in the company’s hiring policy.)

The fraudster used the financial information she obtained and forged the signature of another woman as a cosigner on a student loan to attend a local university. (She got a copy of the cosigner’s signature while working as a temporary employee at a mortgage company.) Apparently, she started making loan payments with the money illegally obtained through the financial institution accounts, but at some point stopped paying. (Her scam was revealed when the student loan company contacted the cosigner, who denied any knowledge of the loan.)

The 30-year-old woman pleaded guilty to 10 counts of identity fraud and one count of computer theft. She was sentenced to five years in prison plus 25 years on probation and ordered to pay restitution of $77,950 to the student loan service and $25,252 to the financial institution to reimburse the company’s cost to investigate her illegal acts and to establish security measures to prevent future losses.

The article mentions that the temporary worker used the stolen funds to send cash to her family in Mississippi and spend money on frivolous retail purchases. Although, she probably thought she would get away with her multiple crimes, she wasn’t counting on a thorough review by law enforcement. (Apparently, investigators provided a four-inch file of her crimes as evidence.) It looks like this woman’s temporary criminal acts have led to a permanent criminal record.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Court: Temp Worker Skimmed Synovus Accounts to Cover Student-loan Fraud,” written by Tim Chitwood and published by the Ledger-Enquirer on July 13, 2015.

A Columbus woman who in 2013 skimmed money from customers’ accounts while she was a temporary worker in the collections division of Synovus Financial Corp. will serve five years in prison and 25 on probation.

After Teresha Shanta Cole pleaded guilty Monday to 10 counts of identity fraud and one of computer theft, Superior Court Judge Ron Mullins ordered the 30-year-old to pay $77,950 to ACS Student Loan Services and $25,252 to Synovus.

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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.