Auckland – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today Angela Kathryn MirabellaA 47-year-old leader in national, multi-year, multi-million dollar student loan debt relief scams. Defendant owned a network of third-party debt relief (TPDR) businesses based in Orange County.
They hired managers and distributors to run multiple call centers that contact individuals across the country who promise to reduce or eliminate federal student loan debt. Instead, the owner, four call center managers, and two distributors allegedly stole more than $ 6,130,000 from more than 19,000 victims, including 3,000 in California, in less than three years.
Two more defendants were arrested for suspected connection to the plan. All defendants face multiple issues, including massive theft by camouflage, computer access and fraud, and unauthorized use of personally identifiable information. The key defendants were charged with all 87 indictments, plus special allegations of over $ 2.5 million in money laundering and exacerbation of white-collar crimes.
Other defendants were identified as follows: Cesar Sandoval-Vilchis, 35; Steven Allen Gamboa, 39; Brianna Nacol Graham, 35; Matthew Bruce Walsh, 27; Telesummer Lovato, 45; and Paulina Francine Pacheco, 32.
“Millions of Californians (including myself) know what it’s like to finish your education, but they often just embark on a decades-long journey to repay a student loan. . ” Attorney General Bonta said.. “Life happens, and many pay their monthly payments, whether they are not working, face unexpected medical costs, or face other life changes. If a greedy company preys on a vulnerable individual and steals from them using misleading tactics, they must be held liable. Cooperate with this investigation. We thank our local and federal law enforcement partners for their inconvenience. Now work is underway to explain who is responsible for these alleged actions. “
“In this case, the victims are the most important people to remember.” Orange County Sheriff’s Office-Coroner Don Burns said.. “All the work of the entire team, including OC Security Investigators, is worth the effort to provide justice to unprotected students who thought they were paying off their student loans. That’s a shameful reality. , Fraudsters use victims for personal financial gain. The best defenses against these frauds are to be informed about different types of fraud and how to avoid becoming a victim. is.”
“This lawsuit demonstrates our common commitment to protect US taxpayers’ investment in federal student loan programs and that they can be involved in this state, local, and federal partnership that brought about today’s actions. I’m proud. ” Tom Harper, Jr., Special Agent for the Technical Crime Division of the Inspector General’s Office (OIG) of the US Department of Education (ED), said:, An OIG unit that works to protect ED programs and network infrastructure by investigating technical crimes.. “This should serve as a warning to students and anyone operating these scams and other scams aimed at student borrowers. You will be caught and held liable for criminal activity.”
“The United States Postal Service is committed to protecting US postal services from criminal misuse and is proud to participate in this large-scale investigation with law enforcement agencies.” Carol Harris, an inspector in charge of the Los Angeles division, said.. “We’re working together to keep these scammers involved in illegal computer access, fraud, identity theft, and money laundering fraudulent and damaging thousands of individuals across the United States. I’m trying to stop it. “
Between 2017 and 2020, TPDR call center distributors contacted an estimated 380,000 student loan borrowers struggling to meet their monthly debt. These agents were allegedly disguised as having a relationship with the U.S. Department of Education, ensuring that borrowers would enroll in a program that would reduce their monthly payments and provide loan forgiveness, even if they were not authorized to do so. .. If the borrower becomes suspicious or uncertain, the agents are by suggesting that their company was the only way to enroll in these plans and their offer was applied only for a limited period of time. It is said to put more pressure on it.
By convincing the victim to belong to the U.S. Department of Education or to be a commercial entity authorized to obtain a loan or enroll a student in a federal loan forgiveness plan, the call center personalizes the borrower. It is said that the information was leaked and used. That information for accessing and making changes to the Borrower’s Federal Student Assistance (FSA) account without consent. Many victims reportedly also unknowingly signed a third-party approval form or power of attorney aimed at giving TPDR permission to make decisions on their behalf.
Each victim paid (or planned to pay) a prepaid fee to the TDPR call center and an additional monthly fee totaling more than $ 1,000 for services provided free of charge by the federal loan servicer. Most victims believed that these payments were applied to student loan debt by TDPR, although this was not the case. Due to this belief, many victims stopped paying their actual student loans monthly, resulting in delayed payment notifications, increased loan balances, and sometimes student loans defaulting.
Justice Secretary Bonta said to all federal student loan borrowers that the U.S. Department of Education and its federal loan servicers would not charge the borrowers to qualify for a loan exemption program, change their repayment plan and change monthly. Reduce loan payments, consolidate multiple loans and remind you to defer payments for temporary reasons Difficult or get a loan from default.
visit www.studentaid.gov/resources/scams For more information on how to avoid student support scams.
The case was investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the US Post Office, and the US Department of Education’s Inspector General. The California Department of Justice (DOJ) eCrime unit handles the indictment.
DOJ eCrime unit A large, multi-jurisdiction criminal organization that commits personal information theft crimes, uses electronic devices or networks to foster crimes, or commits crimes targeting electronic devices, networks, or intellectual property. Investigate and prosecute, networks, and groups.
It is important to note that criminal accusations include accusations that must be proved in court. All defendants are presumed not guilty unless they are found guilty or until they are found guilty.
A copy of the indictment is available here..
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