California Community Colleges Losing Millions to Fake Students

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Quite underreported in mainstream media is the recent revelation of a huge financial aid scam affecting California community colleges and costing millions of dollars lost to theft by fake students.

On November 17, Vision Times reported that California community colleges in at least six districts have fallen prey to a multi-million dollar scam involving fake students – also known as “bots” – that have received financial aid from the colleges, including COVID-19 relief grants.

The story says that these bots are impersonators using a fake or stolen identity to enroll in the college and then apply for financial aid.

California Community Colleges bots
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Number of Bots in California Community Colleges

The numbers of fake students, or bots, at the community colleges in California are close to 2 million.

Altogether, 105 colleges in six college community districts were involved in the financial aid scam involving 116 colleges, with some 1.8 million students enrolled.

The total amount of funds paid in financial aid to these fake students adds up to over $1.5 billion.

Inaction of Administration

The College Fix reported on November 26 cited a criminal justice professor calling the problem abuse of taxpayer dollars. Kim Rich, who teaches criminal justice at Pierce College, noticed the suspicious registration and activity of the fake students in her online class in June this year. She then researched other classes for such bot activity and found that the problem was widespread. The percentage of fake students ranged from 5 percent to as much as 95 percent in various courses at her own college and others in the district.

Despite Rich’s efforts to get the administration moving to take action against the issue, she found the administration did not seem to care much.

The district seems not to care, even though, as she previously told The Epoch Times, Rich believes between one-third to one-half of enrolled students could be fake.

Rich believes that the slowness of administrative action against the bots enrolling for online classes could be intentional since California community colleges system receives federal funding proportionate to the number of students enrolled; and lower student numbers means cuts in funds.

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Ernest Dempsey is a writer, editor, blogger, and journalist based in Orlando, FL. He runs a popular blog Word Matters! and edits the journal and its blog Recovering the Self. Dempsey is a skeptic, vegetarian, and advocate for animal and human rights.