For-Profit Colleges Hired Strippers to Recruit Students
The U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Florida are going after the operator of a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges that, among other things, hired strippers to lure students into enrolling at the schools.
The target of the federal case is FastTrain II Corporation and its owner, Alejandro Amor, who ran seven private schools across Florida until they closed in 2012.
Federal and state lawyers claim “FastTrain and Amor knowingly submitted, or caused to be submitted, numerous false claims for payment to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) arising from their fraudulent course of conduct in order to participate in the federal student aid programs.”
The complaint (pdf) says that the company “employed female exotic dancers as admissions representatives at least one campus to lure young male students.”
A 15-count indictment against FastTrain says it conspired to steal government funds by filing false claims with the Education Department.
School officials provided “false documentation showing that students had high school diplomas or its recognized equivalent, when they did not. Some FastTrain admissions personnel coached certain prospective ineligible students to lie on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) documentation in order for FastTrain to secure more federal funding for students than the students were eligible to receive,” the Justice Department said in a press release. The government charges that FastTrain bilked the government for more than $4.3 million in loans and more than $2.2 million in Pell Grants.
“Federal financial student aid programs are designed to assist students obtain an education. Those who misuse federal funds will be brought to justice and held accountable,” U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer said. “This case is an example of our commitment to use our civil enforcement laws—as well as criminal laws—to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that individuals who seek to improve their lives through a quality education are able to do so.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi added: “Taking advantage of students in order to exploit federal financial aid programs is reprehensible, and we will continue to work with our federal partners to protect Florida students and the integrity of federal financial aid.”
Those who were students when the school was shut down are eligible to have their student loans forgiven, but students who withdrew or graduated earlier are still on the hook, according to the Miami Herald.
To Learn More:
United States v. Fasttrain II Corp. (U.S. District Court, Southern Florida) (pdf)
Florida For-Profit College Used Strippers as Recruiters, Feds Say (by Michael Vasquez, Miami Herald)
Feds Sue Corinthian Colleges, Ask Court to Wipe Out Private Student Loans (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)
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