California’s 2-year system reports scam involving 65,000-plus fake student accounts

Higher Ed Dive 

Natalie Schwartz
September 1, 2021
Dive Brief: 
  • More than 65,000 suspected fraudulent financial applications were created in what may have been an attempt to scam the California Community Colleges system, though it’s unclear if any money was disbursed to fake students, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • Officials suspect fake student accounts were created to obtain financial aid, such as state grants, Pell grants or coronavirus relief funding, from the system. California Community Colleges is investigating the potential fraud and has alerted the U.S. Department of Education about the activity.
  • In a memo this week, a California Community Colleges official said the system is bolstering security measures to prevent more scams, including by requiring college districts to report suspected registration fraud monthly.
Dive Insight: 
The California Community Colleges system is vast, enrolling roughly 2 million students across 116 institutions. Officials there believe they’ve uncovered one of the state’s largest financial aid scams ever attempted, the Times reported.
Many of the accounts flagged for being suspicious were first-time applicants to the system who were older than 30, earned less than $40,000 each year and were seeking two-year degrees, the publication noted. Instructors also began to question whether some of their class enrollees were fake.