An interesting article appeared in the Chronicle of High Education.
Seems that 38-year-old Trenda L. Halton just fit in with the working-adult students at Rio Salado. She however led a double life. Ms. Halton used social security numbers, tax returns and high school deplomas in a scheme that defrauded the federal government of about $539,000 in student-aid dollars—a scheme that involved dozens of people recruited to pose as phony “straw” students, according to court records.
Straw students…wow this sound a lot like what we read so much about with the massive mortgage fraud scandals.
According to the Chronicle’s article:
The high-tech methods she admitted using have already set off alarms at the U.S. Education Department. Ms. Halton made her bogus recruits look like real students by assuming their identities online to “participate” in classes and collect a share of their aid money, authorities say.
The case highlights how the same technology that is expanding access to education for millions of online students may also expose the country’s $117-billion federal financial-aid system to supersize fraud.
The full article is here.
Ms. Halton pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy, mail fraud, and financial-aid fraud. Her lawyer has not responded to requests for comment.
Ultimately, 65 people were indicted, most in Arizona but others in Wyoming and California. In her plea agreement on Tuesday, Ms. Halton agreed to repay $581,060. She was released pending sentencing on March 29. As of Wednesday, 23 other defendants had been sentenced and ordered to repay a total of $212,013.