65 People Indicted in Student Aid Scam

June 25, 2009

A federal grand jury in Arizona on Tuesday indicted 65 people on charges that they obtained more than $530,000 in student aid illegally -- by pretending to be students. According to the indictment, one woman recruited the rest of those indicted to play the part of "straw students," who would pretend to enroll, and would then receive financial aid. The woman who organized the system is charged with taking fees from every participant. The students pretended to enroll at Rio Salado College -- and it was officials there who first noticed apparent discrepancies and reported them to the U.S. Education Department. Linda Thor, president of the college, issued a statement in which she said: "I want to express how proud I am of the staff of our financial aid office for their stewardship of taxpayers’ funds. I commend them for being alert, vigilant, well-trained and cooperative.... We will not tolerate abuse of the system, and we will continue as a college to practice due diligence in processing all financial aid applications.”

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