Thursday, May 20, 2010

Student Fraud: A Growing Problem?

Perhaps you have read about a new criminal case this week involving the Harvard University student who allegedly used fake documents to get into Harvard and to obtain over $45,000 in student financial aid. Of course, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But the question remains: Is "student fraud" a new white collar crime and a growing problem?
Frankly, I don't know. In my research, I couldn't find any clear evidence or statistics to answer this question. However, I did find some examples of other criminal cases involving fraud in obtaining student loans. For example, in a recent case in Alabama, two men have been indicted for conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain college loans while neither man was in college. Also, I am sure we all are familiar with recent cases in which people have been accused of falsifying their resumes and faking college degrees, in order to get jobs. So, while it might be difficult for a student applicant to accomplish the submission of an inflated SAT score, or letters of recommendation, to a university, I'll bet it wouldn't surprise any of us to learn that this actually occurs.
The point is that, even without statistics, each of these cases demonstrates that university administrators, along with lending institutions and employers, must be even more diligent about the possibility of fraud. Student fraud and student loan fraud are apparently here to stay!
What do you think?

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