Education in California: the latest field for financial fraud?


I was frustrated to read this article at the College Fix.

The California Community Colleges system is being overwhelmed by thousands of fake students, or “bots,” applying and enrolling in classes to scam money from financial aid.

Kim Rich, a criminal justice professor at Pierce College, first noticed the issue during the summer semester in June 2021, when she discovered multiple “students” in her online class exhibiting suspicious behavior: submitting work done by someone outside the class, registering for the same courses, and using profile photos pulled from the internet.

Since then, Rich says she has experienced “roadblock after roadblock” in bringing the issue to the administration’s attention. The district seems not to care, even though, as she previously told The Epoch Times, Rich believes between one-third to one-half of enrolled students could be fake.

. . .

Rich’s guesses are confirmed by official numbers from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which determined that approximately 20 percent of the traffic for the systemwide student application system, CCCApply, is “malicious and bot-related.”

On August 30, the Chancellor’s Office issued an update requiring colleges within the CCC system to report monthly metrics on registration and financial fraud starting September.

. . .

While Rich said she suspects the issue started in the spring, Joe Moreau, vice chancellor of technology for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, said he believes it began as early as Fall of 2020.

“Our district has been tracking potential fraud for quite a long time, almost a year now,” he told The College Fix in a telephone interview. “We began to see suspicious activity last fall. And then we really began to hone in on it starting in about January.”

There’s more at the link.

I’m not surprised, particularly because this seems to affect online classes in particular – in other words, those where no student has to be physically present with the lecturer, so their claims about themselves can’t be verified in person.  It’s like California’s COVID-19 relief payments, or its unemployment benefits.  Both programs have lost literally billions of dollars due to fraud, lax administration, and computer systems designed to streamline applications, but ignore basic safeguards and don’t get enough information to confirm the authenticity and credibility of those applying.

(I’ll be very surprised if this sort of thing is limited only to California’s community colleges.  I’ll lay long odds that you’ll find something similar in the University of California system – perhaps even in some high schools, where the number of pupils is so great that the administration can’t keep up with them.  I’d also like to know how widespread the problem may be in the USA as a whole.  I’d say California may be the worst affected, but I won’t be surprised to hear many other states are as well.)

California taxpayers should be up in arms about this, but the silence from them is deafening.  Why is it that they allow their politicians and bureaucrats to get away with allowing such fraud, at their expense?  Can anyone explain, please?  Here in Texas, the explosion of anger from taxpayers if they learned about such fraud would probably be enough to sweep from office all those responsible.  Why not in California?



  1. Financial aid does normally get rolled over to pay tuition. Why do you think the administrators aren't interesting in fixing the problem? Tax money comes in, it gets laundered through the financial aid system, and ends up back in the administrators' pockets.

  2. Taxpayers upset here?
    Why would they be?

    Probably >50% of the state is on the public teat already, and the scammers are the grifting class already, from cradle to grave.

    That's why business owners and the gainfully employed (outside of government-cheese jobs) are leaving the state in droves, and have been for decades, while being replaced by McJobs and welfare recipients.

    The bulk of state taxes are paid by those in tax brackets ranging from comfortable (>$200K/yr) up to ridiculously wealthy multi-millionaires.

    And they don't amount to enough people, even if they all lived as neighbors, to elect even one state senator.

    This state has become a self-greasing socialism axle, which is why it will eventually run out of other people's money, and then fail.

    I'm looking forward to that day, because nothing lesser will suffice.

  3. Fake virtual students are the best kind!
    The money rolls in, with no need to screen the fake virtual students for threats to their virtual classmates.
    With real virtual students, you need to make sure they're Fully Vaccinated(TM), lest they transmit the Pestilence to the vaxxed-and-vulnerable virtual community. And there's the oh-so-real danger that one might go on a self-defense rampage across the virtual campus, putting out virtual dumpster fires and virtually shooting all the pædophiles who attempt to murder him.
    The bots will surely be well-behaved, and (to paraphrase Tom Lehrer) sleep through all the lectures, cheat on the exams, and pass and be forgotten with the rest.

  4. Commies don't believe money represents anyone's hard work; they think it comes from printing presses. Why would they care if someone grabs more than they should? Just keep the presses rolling a bit longer.

  5. Anyone who didn't read the article, they are trying to identify the problem and fix it. The problem isn't recent, and is widespread.

    “Our district has been tracking potential fraud for quite a long time, almost a year now,” he told The College Fix in a telephone interview. “We began to see suspicious activity last fall. And then we really began to hone in on it starting in about January.”

    Since then, his team has been working on a fraud detection model he said has become the “gold standard” throughout the California Community Colleges system. To date, the district has discovered 207 fraudulent admission applications and 336 financial aid applications but has been able to avoid financial loss.


    Interesting, NYT reported over 60,000 fake application submitted back in September, The Epoch Times reported 65,000 around the same time.


    Even more interesting, Huffington post April 2014.

    This flagging procedure has caught 126,000 applicants who sought aid for the 2013-2014 school year.

    It’s so easy to scam schools because most federal aid does not require a credit check, and how the money is spent is not tightly restricted.

    A school receives the money from the government and spends some on tuition. The remainder is sent as a check to the recipients to spend on books and even living expenses while (supposedly) the recipient attends classes.

    Community colleges are especially vulnerable due to their open enrollment and low tuition. The lower the tuition, the more money that’s left over to be sent to the con artist.

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