Student Loan Fraud – Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments – Choices and Consequences

September 29, 2008

Every choice has a consequence.  Sometimes the consequence follows a series of choices that lead a disasterous outcome.  At other times there is no series of small simple choices that keep building, rather, the choice is like diving into a pool off the high dive – once you’ve taken the plunge there is no turning back.

Melissa Renee Heggie, Marvin R. Heggie, Travis Hunter and Derrick King, all of North Carolina were indicted for their roles in a substantial student loan fraud scheme.

According to the US Attorney’s news release: From approximately June, 2007, through March, 2008, MELISSA, her brother, MARVIN, HUNTER, and KING, conspired to obtain approximately $1.2 million in student loans from JP Morgan Chase by submitting fraudulent documents. The HEGGIES recruited individuals to provide their social security card and identification. Once the individuals supplied MELISSA and MARVIN the appropriate documents, a student loan application would be submitted to Chase Bank via the internet using the information provided by the individuals. Chase Bank would approve the application and request further documents including a Chase Loan Application/Promissory Note, copies of the social security card, and identification. The Chase Loan Application/Promissary Note requested information including address, employment, college attending, and amount of loan requested. MELISSA and/or MARVIN would complete the paperwork with the individuals correct name and social security number, but falsify other information to include school attending, employment information, and street address. MELISSA and MARVIN would sign the individuals names verifying that the information on the application was true and then faxed the Loan Application/Promissory Note along with a copy of the social security card, driver’s license, a fraudulent billing statement from ECU, and fraudulent W2 forms, and other falsified documentation to JP Morgan Chase located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Within days a check would be sent via United States Postal Service from JP Morgan Chase and arrive at one of three addresses provided on the application. Once MELISSA and MARVIN received the check, they would contact the individuals and tell them the check arrived. They would then meet at a check cashing facility to cash the check. The individuals would keep half the proceeds and give the other half to MELISSA and/or MARVIN. The checks ranged from $10,000.00 to $28,300.00.

There is little doubt that a white collar crime was committed and that it represents premediated fraud.  While and indictment represents an allegation of a crime and one is presumed innocent till proven guilty, rarely does the US Attorneys office gain an indictment without a conviction.  In fact the US Attorney issued a statement:

“This crime hits at the heart of an important program which provides student loans and financial aid money to deserving students. This prosecution is an effort to make sure this program is handled properly and funds are made available to those truly eligible.”

As a white collar crime speaker, I find it hard to understand the mentality of how this crime was pulled off.  Generally there are three components: (1) need; (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization.  Most white collar criminals start small and rationalization is at the core of the crime.  Otherwise honest people can commit crimes if they can rationalize their actions.  In the case of MELISSA RENEE HEGGIE, 29, of Grimesland, North Carolina; MARVIN R. HEGGIE, 27, of Raleigh, North Carolina; TRAVIS S. HUNTER, 28, of Grimesland, North Carolina; and DERRICK KING, 23, of Aurora, North Carolina, how one could rationalize that this was anything other than fraud is hard to comprehend.

Based on the charges, it would appear that there are four individuals who will spend time contemplating their crimes in the confines of prison.  Yet a wise man once told me that one can make a mistake, but no one is a mistake.  Perhaps these four can learn from their choices and help others not to make the same choices in the future.

Your comments are welcome.