Mom Says College Stole Her ID, Forged Signature To Take Out Student Loan For Son Who Didn’t Attend School

A for-profit educator that was recently hit with a $13 million settlement for allegedly filing false claims for student aid is now accused of stealing an Alabama woman’s identity and forging her signature to take out a student loan for her son, even though he never attended that school.

According to a complaint [PDF] filed last week in a federal court in Alabama, the mom says her son visited the Birmingham campus of for-profit chain Fortis Institute in July 2015. She says her son listed her has an “emergency contact” on the forms he filled out while considering Fortis.

Ultimately, her son elected to attend a different school, but when she went to apply for a loan through that college, she says she was told that her son already had an outstanding student loan at Fortis.

In Feb. 2016, the mom went to the Fortis office in Birmingham and asked for evidence of the paperwork for this supposed loan. The school showed her that it had pulled her credit report, and then provided her with a “Consent to Obtain Credit Report” document containing her personal information and what she alleges is a forged signature.

The school also showed her a copy of a Direct Loan promissory note, which stated that it had been electronically signed by the mom in Aug. 2015, more than a month after her son visited Fortis.

“It was at this time that Plaintiff became aware that Fortis had defrauded her and had created false loan documents,” reads the complaint. “Plaintiff had never before seen the documents provided to her by Fortis, and was unaware of the existence of these documents, did not sign these or any other such documents, and did not authorize anyone to sign these, or any other Fortis related documents on her behalf.”

Now the mom says she is getting invoices from the loan servicing company seeking payment, and “has been denied financing, has been subject to debt collection letters.”

The lawsuit, filed against both Fortis and its parent company Education Affiliates LLC, accuses the defendants of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Alabama identity protection laws, and asserts claims of defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, fraud, and false light.

We’ve written to Education Affiliates for comment, but have not yet heard back.

This is not the first time that Education Affiliates — which also operates the All-State Career Schools, DriveCo, Saint Paul’s School of Nursing, Denver School of Nursing, and the ASPE Training online program — has been accused of submitting false claims for federal aid.

Last June, only weeks before the plaintiff in this lawsuit says the school illegally pulled her credit report, Education Affiliates agreed to a $13 million settlement with the Justice Department over multiple allegations, like altering admissions test results, creating bogus high school diplomas, and referring applicants to fraudulent online diploma mills, all with the intent of misleading the Dept. of Education into believing these students were eligible for financial aid.

As part of the settlement deal, Education Affiliates did not admit any wrongdoing, though two All-State admissions reps were convicted on related, criminal charges.

[via Courthouse News]

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