I’m almost done with my month long duty as a member of a Grand Jury. Our job is to hear all the cases of this month and either indict the defendant or acquit so he/she can not be taken to trial.
One of the cases we heard today involved an undocumented student who used the social security number of a deceased person in order to obtain federal loans. The student filled out the FAFSA with this information and signed it confirming that all the information on the form was legitimate.
The department of education runs frequent checks to verify that social security numbers used to secure loans do not belong to deceased individuals. Once they detect an irregularity, that student gets “flagged”. Both the school for which the loans are being requested and the student are informed of the situation. The school can then request further proof that the student is in effect the owner of such social security number.
In this particular case brought to the Grand Jury, the student presented a social security card with the number in question (which belonged to someone else) and a fake birth certificate.
The birth certificate was deemed fake because the agency that issued it verified that at the time of the student’s birth, the officer signing the certificate was not working in that office, and that the file number belonged to a different person.
Although we raised the question that perhaps the student didn’t know that these id’s were fake (maybe the parents had supplied the student with them), the jury still voted to indict. Which means that this young person will be taken to trial.
I know it’s very hard for students who have been brought illegally to the country by their parents when they were children to accept that they can not receive federal aid to go to college. But there are many other ways of paying for college without using fake identification. (There are scholarships being offered at many schools, and others available privately. Please read more about that in other articles on this blog.) The trouble you can get in for resorting to identity theft is absolutely not worth it. It may even cause your deportation!