Lawyer Dopers: any chance I could get in legal trouble here?

To give just the bare bones of the situation:

I’m enrolling in a rather costly course, I applied through the school for a student loan. So, the school sent my loan application off to a few banking institutions to see who (if any) will give me a student loan…

So far, so good!

I got a few letters from banks saying that they had denied my loan application, or that they would not loan me the full amount, etc. (reason: I’m currently unemployed, and have little credit history here in the US, having spent the last 8 years living and working overseas…). No surprise, I didn’t expect that getting the loan would be easy given my limited credit history.

So today I got a call from a bank loan officer.

Loan officer: “We’re trying to verify your employment, but I can’t seem to get ahold of anyone at the phone number provided.”
Me: “:confused: Huh? I’m unemployed… it says so right there on the loan application.”
Loan Officer: “Er. I have a payslip here that says you earned $1500 during 2 weeks in August working at company name.”
Me: “Me?”
Loan Officer: “Yup, you! It’s got your name on it, and your social security number and everything.”
(we verified that all the info. on the payslip seemed to belong to me… correct social sec, etc.)
Me: “I have no idea! I’m NOT employed, and that’s what I wrote on the loan application… and I’ve never even heard of that company!”

So I called the school and spoke to the guy who filed the loan apps for me… he has no idea what is going on, but he’ll call me back.

A while later, he calls back: Someone there (he says a new secretary) took it upon themselves to forge a fake payslip from a fictional company and, I assume, change the loan application documents that I had filled out, in order to push my loan application through.

I’ll give you a second… go back and read that bolded part again, and tell me if that makes ANY sense whatsoever to you!

I’m speechless.

The guy at the school says he’ll talk to the loan officer, and get back to me tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of hours now, and I want to know: is there ANY possible way I can get in legal trouble over this? Will it adversly affect my (already pathetic) credit rating?

Help!

Well, if the guy at the school admits that, get it in writing. Then you should be able to clear yourself if a question comes up.

IANAL, but you weren’t the one who did something wrong - somebody else forged documents to make their loan company some bucks. You didn’t ask for it to be done, and as soon as you were asked about it you set the loan officer who called you straight. I certainly don’t see how anyone could try and get you in legal trouble over that.

As far as how it affects your credit rating, I would strongly suggest that you get a written statement from the loan company explaining what happened - you don’t want “Denied for loan because of insufficient credit history” to become “Denied for loan because of false statements on application”. You should also check with the three credit-reporting companies (TRW, Experian and one other as I recall) and make sure that this doesn’t make it onto your file. If they put anything incorrect there, you can alert them to it and they have something like 30 days to either provide evidence for the charge or remove it. This part isn’t about whether you did anything wrong, it’s just about covering your butt.

My experience with credit companies is that persistence pays when you need a mistake corrected.

Good luck!

IANAL.

Did you keep a photocopy of the loan application before you turned it in?

I suggest you also begin a diary, accounting for everything on this issue. Make note of the date/time, name/title of everyone you speak with on the issue, try to keep as close as possible to exactly what is said to you, and how you respond, etc.

I would go in person to the school and ask for a copy of the loan application. If you completed it by hand, chances are changes to it would be in something other than your hand (a good reason never to have someone complete such an application for you!).

Thanks guys!

I do, of course, have photocopies of the original loan application(s). Tomorrow I’ll try to get a written statement of what happened from the guy at the school as well as the loan officer at the bank.

Thanks for the advice!

Thanks guys!

I do, of course, have photocopies of the original loan application(s). Tomorrow I’ll try to get a written statement of what happened from the guy at the school as well as the loan officer at the bank.

Thanks for the advice!

If you don’t mind my asking what is this “course” that this “college” is so desperate to get your cash for, that they will doctor your financial application? BTW I believe the “new secretary did this” story about as much as the tooth fairy. This is something someone with an overwhelming vested interest in getting the money will do. It might be the guy you talked to who did this, but it ain’t a hourly secretary.

Be careful this rings all kinds of “scam” bells.

Agreed, but to answer your questions:

The course is an MCSA/MCSE certification, with an added CCNA and Security+ cert to boot. (I’m changing careers to get into something more interesting to me… I’ve already completed one certification at this school, and I’m satisfied that the school itself is legit. I’m aware that there are many “schools” churning out computer certs quickly with no real academic qualifications, but this school is not one of them. The school itself is legit.)

As for the “new secretary” story; I am also having a hard time swallowing that! I hope tomorrow to get a better sense of who did what. The guy who processed my loan apps I have known for several months, and while I wouldn’t say that I know him well, I have a very hard time believing that he did this… there may be more to the story than I got today… When this happened earlier today, I was too stunned to intelligently react or ask questions.

I will post here tomorrow with whatever info I learn…

Those MCSE classes are EXPENSIVE, and relatively cheap to offer. The facilities running them are sometimes of minimal size.
I’m willing to believe the organization offerring this class to you MAY in fact be composed of scammers willing to do this.
IT spending in general is not at the level it used to be… they may be resorting to this to try to keep enrollment up, so as to avoid financial trouble themselves, or instructor layoffs.
Wow. I’d never imagined a school, even a small trade/tech school, would try to scam the bank into giving you financial aid.

I’m looking for a cite, but I’ve read that some schools make most of their money off financial aid. There have been several cases of massive fraud, some with the money going straight to the schools and not the students. Let’s see what I can find online.

Sounds to me like the school has done this before. I’d run away from them and find someone with a better reputation.

Some links of trade school frauds involving financial aid:

http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/11-1996/1pr.html
http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/10.16.97/cover/masters2-9742.html
http://www.fafsa.com/references/scams.htm
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/scholarship/

Whoa! Thanks, Telemark!

Astroboy, I don’t think I’d be satisfied with some supervisor just talking to the person who forged your name & falsified information on your account. There’s a current case at my university where one of the finance workers got caught using other people’s names to create accounts for herself. I fear what you’ve discovered may not be the whole thing.

OK. So I’ve been to the credit union and spoken with the loan officer myself. I now have copies not only of my original loan application, but the altered one and the faked payslip. I’ve also spoken again with the guy at the school.

Here’s, apparently, what happened: there was a new secretary at the school who “fixed” my application to give me a greater chance of getting the loan (it seems that she would have gotten a commission from the processing of the loan… how much, I don’t know… but there’s the motive). She also faked up a payslip from the imaginary company she used on the loan app (I assume she did this when the credit union called the school looking to verify my employment). The payslip looks real! She did a good job on that, even figuring out tax deductions and everything. Fortunately, the credit union called ME when they could not get my “employer” on the phone…

The secretary is now, I’m told, an ex-secretary (for which, oddly, I feel kinda bad… as irrational as that sounds.). When I talked with the loan officer in person this morning, she told me that they, initially, were going to cease doing business with the school, but after talking to the guy at the school, they were satisfied that the situation had been resolved there and would not happen again.

I went over the original application (I took my copies with me) with the loan officer and compared them to the altered application. Not only did the altered one show that I was employed, but the rent I reported paying monthly had been drastically cut, and my wife had mysteriously morphed into my sibling! I’m an incesterer!!

We straightened out all the errors, and I made clear to the loan officer that, should the loan be approved after all this, I did NOT want any funds released to the school without my say-so (as I’m having second thoughts about attending this school now).

I talked again with the guy at the school and asked him to write down what happened and sign it for me. He said he would, and I will pick it up tomorrow. So, it looks like I’m covered!

I have copies of the original apps, the altered apps, the faked payslip, and will have a signed testimony from the school tomorrow.

So it appears to be all straightened out now.

And, I got a call a few minutes ago from the guy at the school, who said that he had just heard that the loan had been approved! I haven’t heard from the loan officer yet (she told me she’d call me when she heard, but she may be at lunch right now). So now I have to decide if I want to go to school there or not. As I said, I already have one certification that I earned at this school… I like the school, I like the teachers, and I like the facilities. I’ll meet again with the guy at the school tomorrow and discuss the situation with my wife, and then make a decision.

Thanks all for the advice! This seriously weirded me out yesterday!

I’d still speak to the cops about it. That “secretary” can still get hired somewhere else and do the same stunt.

I’d also go get a copy of my credit report & I’d speak with my banks about a possible identity theft.

I do not believe the “secretary” story for a single moment. You are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Í would have no further dealings with them and report them. It reeks of scam.

It really reeks: of scam, of identity theft, of a number of things. Additionally, I’m really wary of a school that discusses this stuff over the telephone and is apparently “relaying information” to you on behalf of another outfit.

Out of pure curiosity, (and being a commisson paid real estate agent myself), what possible reason in this world would there be to pay an hourly secretary or office worker a “commission” for doing loan application paperwork?

None. It’s all CYA. I’m guessing that it’s not just one person in that finance office that’s a thief.

I would imagine that any detailed paperwork processing job has its declines due to errors in the paperwork. Maybe she gets a comission for every “approval” based on that approvals must have been properly completed.

I would still be willing to bet serious cash that she was operating under orders to fudge the paperwork.