“What do I do if I’m under investigation for loan fraud?”
A conviction for loan fraud can derail a young person’s future. In all cases, it is possible to persuade law enforcement to reduce or dismiss charges if the accused has outstanding legal representation.
Accusations of Student Loan Fraud Are Stressful, But They Do Not Have To Ruin Your Future
Today, there’s more scrutiny than ever regarding student loans. The government is cracking down on student loans and auditing them for fraud. Currently, the hammer is coming down on Income-Driven Repayment Plans. Falsely reporting information to a federal agency can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. If convicted, this type of crime could also place you in jail for up to one year and require you to pay fines, costs, and loan penalties. Under some special circumstances, the penalty can be up to 10 years in prison.
If you may have made a mistake and made a false statement regarding your student loans, or if you are under investigation, don’t panic. DO NOT contact your loan provider for instructions on repairing the error. The first thing you should do is call a qualified criminal defense attorney! There are many ways to avoid jail and prison, and in many cases, an experienced, effective criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid a felony or misdemeanor conviction. The sooner a lawyer can intervene on your behalf, the better! Criminal charges may be entirely avoidable if an experienced criminal defense lawyer is involved on a pre-charge basis.
What Is an Income-Based Repayment Plan?
Income-Driven Repayment Plans were designed to make it easier for students to repay their hefty school loans. The point was to create a payment plan proportionate to income and family members. To check for eligibility, certain criteria must be reported. Those items are the amount of income, the size of your family, state residence, and the type of federal loan secured. The borrower must recertify the income-based payment plan each year and confirm and/or modify the reported information if your loan is granted. The government can prosecute in federal court if false information was provided or material information was left out of the application or recertification.
The Government, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Student Loans
The government got involved in Student Loan Fraud because outstanding debt affects taxpayers. There has been a long-standing belief that Income-Driven Repayment Plans were susceptible to fraud. There is undeniable proof that students have misrepresented income and family size information on their applications. Taxpayers are outraged, so the government is enacting policies examining applications and looking for fraudulent data. The forms are complicated to complete, and the questions can be confusing. Often, students have to complete these loan applications on their own without direction or actual assistance. Even an innocent or negligent mistake can raise the suspicion of law enforcement and result in prosecution.
The Government Solution to Income-based Repayment Plan Fraud
The government’s solution to minimize Student Loan Fraud is believed to be accessing your Internal Revenue data. Law enforcement officials may even attempt to obtain your personal IRS data. This is meant to be an auditing method to check for discrepancies, flag those errors, and ultimately attempt to catch you in a lie, or they may attempt to point out an innocent mistake and claim it was intentional. Comparing your IRS data with your student loan repayment plan may cause red flags to be raised, and your lawyer must have the credibility to attempt to keep the government out of your private records. Any notice from the IRS or Federal Aid Office would cause concern for anybody, let alone a newly graduated student. If you get something in the mail stating you are being audited or investigated, it would be in your best interest to show that letter to a criminal defense attorney. Whatever you do, DO NOT talk with or contact law enforcement on your own. Remember, “anything you say can and WILL be used against you in court.”
Felony Prosecution & Student Loan Fraud
Even if it was a simple mistake regarding your income or a family member, a prosecutor won’t care or may not believe an innocent justification. If you attempt to justify an error in the paperwork, it is almost certain that whatever you say will be used against you in a future prosecution. Because of media attention, the government has become highly aggressive in investigating and prosecuting alleged student loan fraud. Cases brought before the court addressing this type of charge could result in overly harsh prosecutions. As fraudulent claims are brought forward, prosecutors and judges could very well make an example of you in the courtroom, thinking that might be a deterrent for other former or future students. Because the government will fervently prosecute those accused of these crimes, it is critically important to have a powerful and zealous defense lawyer to protect your rights.
A Conviction and Your Future
A conviction for any fraud charge is a big deal because it creates a criminal history for you. This means you now have a criminal record that will appear on any job application background checks for employment. All of the sacrifices you have made to get your education, a professional license, or a career would be in vain if you could not obtain your career of choice. Furthermore, this crime will follow you and potentially obstruct you from getting home loans, car loans, and special licenses, to name a few. Your integrity and honesty will be questioned throughout nearly every aspect of your life, and protecting your reputation is critical. Ideally, the goal is to avoid blemishing your future by partnering with an expert criminal defense lawyer who will do everything possible to shield and guide you through this ordeal.
What Should I Do if I Think I Am in Trouble?
Should you receive any notification that you are being investigated or receive a criminal charge for student loan fraud, seek a criminal defense attorney right away. The criminal defense law firm of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has experience helping individuals accused of felony fraud in Michigan courts and federal court. We are one of the few Criminal Defense Law Firms in Michigan aware of this newly discovered type of criminal charge and how to protect you best.
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. will fight tirelessly to preserve your legal rights and protect your future. Our attorneys have the skill and experience to create a solid strategy with efforts focused on a dismissal, lesser offense plea, and/or avoiding a jail sentence. We are not afraid to challenge the federal or local government and have the power and credibility to defend you effectively.
Call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney today if you have reason to believe you are being investigated or have been charged with Student Loan Fraud. We are very interested in discussing your situation with you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.