The California Community College System is investigating a seemingly large-scale fraud scheme involving more than 65,000 fraudulent applications for financial aid submitted by “students” who may be robots.
Patrick Perry, Director of Policy, Research, and Data, California Student Aid Board Tell the Los Angeles Times While checking federal financial aid records routinely, he became suspicious, when he noticed a sharp increase in first-time applicants in a certain age range and income group in a short period of time. All are over 30 years old and have an annual income of less than $40,000.
“We are a little puzzled,’In the past few months, has there really been 60,000 additional senior students trying to apply to community colleges here?'” Perry said. He told the newspaper that the number of suspected false applications may exceed 65,000.
Officials at California Community College (CCC) declined to say whether any payments were made to the scammers, but Perry said he believes the problem was discovered early and may not have distributed aid.
116 university systems also detected abnormal admissions activities. Valerie Lundy-Wagner, Interim Vice President of CCC Digital Innovation and Infrastructure, stated in a memo on Monday (pdf) About 20% of recent traffic on its main online application portal is “malicious and bot-related”.
“It is clear that across the country, bad actors are trying to exploit any loopholes in different departments,” Lundy Wagner warned in the memo. The principal’s office now requires the suspension of any student accounts related to fraudulent activity, and all universities must submit monthly reports detailing suspicious and confirmed registration and financial aid fraud, including any payments sent to scammers.
CCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who is currently on vacation, told the Los Angeles Times that at least six universities have reported a surge in student applications for admissions, which may be false.
“Of course I was shocked,” Oakley said. “There are a lot of unscrupulous players trying to obtain and take advantage of benefits, which is different from unemployment insurance and any other benefits that have recently been provided due to the pandemic.”
Although the CCC did not specify which financial aid awards were involved in this particular case, scammers may target federal relief payments received by universities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community colleges across the Golden State are entitled to receive at least $4.3 billion in three rounds of federal higher education relief funds, of which $1.75 billion is designated directly to help students pay tuition, rent, and other living expenses.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times