School Financial Aid Worker Admits to Stealing Student Financial Aid Refunds
Baltimore, Maryland – Janelle A. Rose, age 21, of Baltimore, and Tuscon, Arizona, pleaded guilty today to unauthorized access to a protected computer in furtherance of fraud arising from a scheme to steal student loan refund payments.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and John L. Phillips, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Department of the Treasury - Office of Inspector General.
According to her plea agreement, on June 8, 2015, Rose began work as a student financial services representative at a school in Baltimore that provided postsecondary education. From June 15 to 19, Rose secretly wrote down the names of students, their account passwords and other information in a notepad that she then took back to her home. From June 19 to 23, Rose used the stolen information and her computer to access the electronic accounts of at least 40 students, and alter the student bank account information so that each of the student’s loan refund payments would be made to Rose’s Green Dot Bank account. Refunds to 20 of the students were processed and $73,996 was fraudulently deposited to her Green Dot Bank account.
Each time an adjustment is made to a student’s financial information, account number, address or bank information, the school’s computer system generates an email to the student providing notice of the change. Rose accessed the students’ email accounts and deleted the account change notification emails from the students’ inboxes.
The school and its vendors discovered Rose’s fraud. Green Dot returned the $73,996 in stolen student loan refund proceeds before Rose was able to withdraw the funds. This money was returned to the student victims.
Rose was fired on June 27 and she moved to Tuscon to attend college.
On September 20, 2015, Rose opened a new Green Dot account in the name of her roommate. That day, from her Tuscon residence, she used information she stole from the school where her employment had been terminated to access two students’ accounts on the school network. Rose changed these two students’ bank account information so that any student loan refunds would be paid to the Green Dot account that Rose created in her roommate’s name. As a result, the students’ loan refunds totaling $11,979.50 were paid to the Green Dot account in the roommate’s name. These transactions were rejected by Green Dot and the money was returned to the victim students.
Rose faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz scheduled her sentencing for September 20, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and Department of the Treasury – OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachery A. Myers, who is prosecuting the case.