According to reporting in the Arizona Republic, financial aid fraud rings are becoming a real problem where online schools are concerned. The reporting claims that, over the course of the last three years, federal government officials have discovered three financial aid schemes centered on Rio Salado College, an online school located in Arizona. The financial aid schemes uncovered by these officials involve hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How it Works
Identity theft can play a part in these scams. The way it works is that either stolen identities or fake identities are used to apply for federal student loans and grants. The scammers then use that money for their own purposes. One particular scam involved stealing the identities of inmates to get financial aid.
Another school strongly associated with online learning, the University of Phoenix, is run by a company called the Apollo Group. This company has sent in excess of 850 potential fraud schemes to the feds since 2009, according to the reporting. Approximately 25 of the cases that they referred to the federal government have resulted in prosecution.
Most college fraud victims are students who ended up getting a worthless degree from a school and who ended up paying a lot of money for it. This is certainly a disturbing type of fraud. This is not always how fraud works where online schools are concerned, however. The other type of fraud can happen to anyone, whether or not they have ever gone to college or even have any interest in it. Identity theft is a real problem. Identity theft can be used to perpetrate many different types of crime, including applying for student aid in someone else’s name. Somebody who was the victim of this type of fraud may end up having their credit destroyed and suffering legal consequences for something they didn’t do themselves.
Students who have been deceived by an online school – whether it was to get excess financial aid, by being given a worthless degree or in any other way – should consider filing a lawsuit over the matter. In some cases, the fact that the school did not realize what was going on or that they let it go on despite the fact that there was evidence of some type of fraud can be construed as evidence of negligence by a jury. Through a jury award or settlement, a personal injury attorney may be able to get you compensation for what you’ve been put through.