- Police at the College of Marin in Kentfield, CA, are investigating an alleged $200,000 federal financial aid fraud scheme involving 23 fake students.
- The so-called “Pell running” fraud, which is on the rise nationally, typically involves a ringleader who recruits fake students to use their Social Security numbers and other personal information to apply for Pell Grants, staying enrolled just long enough to collect the grant money.
- At the College of Marin, two faculty members reported that several of their students who had the same address and phone number had withdrawn after financial aid funding had been disbursed, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Pell-running typically targets online classes, which are easier because of their relative anonymity for students. Financial aid schemes cost up to $1 billion per year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which also cited a scheme from 2007 to 2011 where three fake students stole more than $1 million in financial aid by "attending" the City College of San Francisco, Chabot College in Hayward, CA, and Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. Though colleges aren’t required to repay money stolen in a financial aid fraud, they can be harmed when the missing funds count against their student loan default rate.