It is illegal under both federal and state law to make false promises, false claims or material misrepresentations in order to enrich yourself. Committing financial aid fraud can result in prosecution within New York State as well as criminal prosecution at the federal level by a U.S. attorney. Financial aid fraud takes a number of forms, including making incorrect claims to receive money from agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or to obtain funds under the Title IV Federal Student Assistance Program.
If you have been charged with a financial aid scam, contact Raiser & Kenniff, PC today for legal assistance. An experienced attorney on our team can help you to determine the best method of dealing with an indictment or arrest and walk you through the most effective way to respond to police questioning without sacrificing your legal rights. Call us today for more information.
Types of Financial Aid Fraud
There are a number of financial aid frauds, including:
– Applying for disaster benefits from FEMA using inaccurate information about disaster losses or using someone else’s identity.
– Applying for federal student aid using someone else’s identity.
– Manipulating test scores on exams to qualify for federal student aid grants.
– Intentionally misrepresenting income or omitting income information on the Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.
– Straw student scams, in which individuals apply to schools or universities as new students with fake GED certificates or phony high school diplomas. Money is sent to the school in which the student is enrolled, and when the balance of the loan is more than the cost of the tuition, the remaining money is sent to the fake students.
Financial Aid Fraud Penalties
The above examples as well as other financial aid fraud scams involving federal aid funds can result in criminal charges for:
– Making misleading, fraudulent or false statements (18 U.S. Code Section 1001). You face five years incarceration for fraudulent or false statements within the jurisdiction of the judicial, legislative or executive branch of the U.S.
– Conspiracy to defraud the U.S. (18 U.S. Code Section 371). You face five years incarceration for attempting to defraud against the U.S. government, even if you are unsuccessful.
– Making fictitious, fraudulent or false claims to any U.S. Government agency (18 U.S. Code Section 287).
– Identity theft or false identification offenses (18 U.S. Code Section 1028). You face 15 years incarceration for obtaining financial aid benefits through identity misrepresentation or identity theft.
– Wire fraud (18 U.S. Code Section 1343), which also has a potential 20-year imprisonment sentence for committing fraud using wire communications.
– Mail fraud (18 U.S. Code Section 1341). You face imprisonment for 20 years for using the postal service as part of your alleged fraud scheme.
Even submitting a FAFSA form with purposefully incorrect information may be enough for an individual to face charges of attempting to make false statements, defraud the government and either wire or mail fraud depending on whether the individual mailed or electronically submitted the form.
Due to the serious nature of these crimes, particularly as they relate to defrauding the U.S. government, and the significant consequences of the allegations, it is imperative that individuals accused of financial aid scams work with a professional lawyer who can help protect their rights. Although you may feel as though you may adequately represent yourself and that an attorney is unnecessary, a financial aid lawyer can work to make sure you are treated with the fairness and justice you deserve.
Why You Need a New York Financial Aid Lawyer On Your Side
Financial aid fraud comes with serious consequences. No matter what type of fraudulent act you’ve been accused of, you have the right to defend yourself in a court of law, but it’s important to understand the best method of representing yourself against the charges against you. A New York financial aid lawyer can inform you of the available defenses or assist you in negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors in order to reduce the severity of your charges. For more information about financial aid fraud or to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation, please contact a professional financial aid attorney at Raiser & Kenniff, PC today.