When Fraud Becomes Fashionable

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Listen to this StoryThe Daily Herald reports that two sisters pleaded guilty on October 20, 2015, to stealing students’ identities in order to steal $300,000 in fraudulent student aid from the U.S. Department of Education. (Although they reportedly never attended classes at the institutions they facetiously registered with, these fraudsters evidently took a lesson or two about how to conduct identity theft.)

The story details how the sisters were part of a larger conspiracy, involving two other women who together stole identities and shared illegally obtained student aid funds between January 2012 and February 2013. The fraudsters registered for classes at a local college and an online university, but reportedly never attended class. They reportedly spend much of the money they earned on personal items. Some of these items were remarkably expensive, including shoes made by famous designer brands. (You’re shocked, right?)

According to the story, the fraudsters obtained their funds in the form of checks and debit cards issued by two banks, ranging from $7,000 to $13,000 in value. Their total haul resulted from claims made on behalf of dozens of stolen identities. Reportedly, when police searched the home that one of the sisters involved in this case shared with one of her co-conspirators, police discovered stolen personal information belonging to more than 50 people. (That’s how $7,000-$13,000 becomes more than $300,000.)

Two of the four fraudsters involved in this scheme were previously sentenced in 2014 to prison – one for nine years and the other for five years. The two sisters in this case both received sentences of 10 years in prison, and they were also ordered to repay $319,000 in restitution.

Instead of doing the work of going to class, getting good jobs and becoming productive and prosperous members of society, these fraudsters cashed in on the identities of others and stole their way to a better life. Now that life is behind bars – and there are no designer shoes there.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Glendale Heights woman and sister plead guilty to student loan fraud scheme,” written by Erin Hegarty and published by The Daily Herald on October 20, 2015.

A Glendale Heights woman and her sister pleaded guilty Tuesday in DuPage County to stealing students’ identities and using them to acquire more than $300,000 in student aid from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a news release from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Olympia Blue, 34 of Glendale Heights and her sister Dasia Blue, 30, of Monee, were sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $319,000 in restitution. Authorities say they used the money they got from the federal government to buy personal items including an $800 pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.

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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.