Charges laid in elaborate student loan fraud scheme
We have arrested and charged one man in relation to a student loan scheme, where it is alleged that he worked with another man who is currently wanted on warrants for defrauding the Alberta Student Aid office and several private post-secondary institutions in Calgary out of more than $240,000.
In October 2019, a Peace Officer with the Advanced Education Special Investigations team under the provincial government contacted the Calgary Police Service when they noticed multiple inconsistencies with several student loan applications.
A lengthy investigation ensued and revealed that the scheme was run by two men between May 2017 and May 2020. It is believed they used the stolen identities and personal information of 21 unsuspecting individuals to fraudulently apply for student loans from the provincial government.
The two men allegedly stole the identities and personal information from citizens who were already the victims of other data breaches and mail thefts.
Once the suspects had the victims’ personal information, they would target a post-secondary institution and enroll as students using the stolen identities. They would then apply for student financial aid. Most of the loan applications were conducted online, resulting in loan approvals ranging from approximately $25,000 to $38,000 for each student personation.
The government deposited the funds directly into the bank accounts provided by the suspects posing as students during the loan process. The bank accounts were also opened fraudulently, using the same stolen identities and personal information.
The suspects would physically attend the school, posing as a student under a fraudulent identity, to satisfy the requirements for obtaining the loan payouts. To secure the second loan payout, the suspects would phone the Alberta Student Aid office posing as the applicable student and request a release of the remaining funds. The total payout for each loan was as high as $27,000.
The suspects would simultaneously attend various schools under a variety of fraudulent identities to perpetuate the scheme and maximize payouts.
In addition to receiving fraudulent student loans using the stolen identities, the suspects are believed to have also committed credit card and cheque fraud and obtained mail services fraudulently.
As a result, Dave Guylenz Mitchell BEAUVAIS, 32, has been charged with:
- Money laundering
- Fraud over $5,000
- Possession of identity documents
- Uttering forged documents
- Possession of a controlled substance
He will next appear in court on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.
Kader DAHCHI, 30, is wanted on warrants for one count of using a forged document and one count of identity fraud.
It is important that we recognize the growing trend of online fraud and identity crimes, believed to be increasing throughout the duration of the pandemic.
As workplaces and employees quickly transitioned to remote working during the pandemic, the Calgary Police Service has seen an increase in identity fraud offences that are being committed using online platforms. In 2019, there were 148 online identity crimes reported to the Calgary Police Service. In 2020, that number rose to 261.
Compromised personal information, damaged credit or stolen funds aren’t the only consequences of identity theft and fraud. Criminals who steal identities and personal information can also be connected to organized crime, like drug or human trafficking operations, sometimes using the people they traffic to commit the frauds. Other times, offenders will pay other people to commit the fraud or personations as part of a larger scheme in return for drugs or cash payouts.
“Identity theft and fraud are serious offences that carry significant consequences and impact for the victims,” says Staff Sergeant Geoff Gawlinski of the Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit.
“Oftentimes victims don’t know they are a victim, even after their finances and credit have been damaged. We are working diligently with the administrative staff of all the affected schools, as well as the Alberta Student Aid loan office, and various financial institutions to ensure robust security measures are in place.”
The Calgary Police Service would like to thank the Advanced Education Special Investigations team, the schools and their administrative staff and the financial institutions for their assistance in helping us advance this investigation.
The Calgary Police Service would like to remind citizens to protect their personal and financial information by following these data safety tips:
- Do not give any personal or financial information to someone you don’t know or enter it on unsecure websites. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, birthdates, and other personal information.
- Regularly monitor financial records. Check bank statements, credit reports and bank accounts regularly. If you notice anything suspicious, notify your financial institution immediately. The quicker you spot a potential fraud, the better your chances are of rectifying the situation quickly and avoiding long-term consequences that could affect your credit health.
- Report fraud to police or the Canadian Ani-Fraud Centre. If you have lost money or have had your identity compromised, report it to police by calling 403-266-1234, or to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. By reporting your experience, you are helping law enforcement pursue investigations and warning others. Call 9-1-1 for crimes in progress or if you are in immediate danger.
Anyone who believes their personal identity to be compromised is asked to contact the police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be left anonymously using Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:
APP: "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.