University of Fraud

Student Loan Application form with glasses and ballpoint pen

Incarcerated individuals are not eligible to apply for or receive Federal Student Aid. But that doesn’t change the fact that prisoners, particularly those serving long sentences, are attractive targets for identity thieves. While sitting in jail a prisoner doesn’t have the means to regularly monitor their credit reports. Unbeknownst to them, their personal identifying information or bank and credit card accounts could be used for endless fraud opportunities. They can be easy prey. Nyisha Ramsey, her sister Dionne Ramsey, and her mother-in-law Sharyn Barney allegedly knew that when they started their student loan scheme.

On March 3, 2023, a federal grand jury indicted the fraud trio Ramsey, Ramsey and Barney alleging that they ran a federal student aid fraud scheme from January of 2012 to August of 2017. The indictment claims the defendants obtained personal data, including names and Social Security numbers of state prison inmates and used this information to fraudulently enroll in Orange County community colleges. Upon acceptance to the college, Ramsey, Ramsey and Barney then posed as the students to apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

According to federal regulations, federal student-loan funds can only be used to pay the cost of attending an institution of higher education. But the money never made it to the college Treasury Office. Ramsey, Ramsey and Barney collected nearly $1 million FSA funds using stolen identities and redirected the funds directly into their own personal bank account.

Shout out to the United States Department of Education with the investigation of this matter. Ramsey, Ramsey and Barney might be meeting the victims of their scheme very soon.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article  ”3 women arrested, allegedly stole nearly $1 million in federal student loans” published by KTLA Los Angeles on March 3, 2023

The suspects were identified as Nyisha Ramsey, 43, of Lancaster, Dionne Ramsey, 36, of Las Vegas, (Nyisha’s sister) and Sharyn Barney, 62, of Lancaster, (Nyisha’s mother-in-law), by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.The three women are accused of obtaining around $980,000 in student loans using stolen identities, some of which belonged to California inmates, authorities said.

From January 2012 to August 2017, the suspects obtained stolen names and Social Security numbers to fraudulently enroll in an Orange County community college.The suspects posed as fake students while applying for funds through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program. They directed all stolen funds to their personal bank accounts which were used for personal expenses and not college tuition, authorities 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.