- Robert Stanley, 42, allegedly used fake students at online schools to collect $6.2 million in federal aid
- Prosecutors say money partly used to pay ghostwriters to do assignments
(Reuters) - An employee of the U.S. Department of Defense has been charged with applying for millions of dollars in federal aid on behalf of fake students and hiring ghostwriters to complete their online assignments.
Randolph Stanley, 42, an employee at the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), used dozens of individuals - none of whom intended to earn a degree - to collect federal aid between 2005 and 2021, prosecutors in Maryland announced on Friday.
A total of $6.7 million in aid was disbursed to at least eight schools, which deducted tuition and sent $6.2 million to the students, including Stanley, who pocketed all or some of this money, prosecutors said.
Stanley was charged on June 1 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and arrested on Wednesday. He was released pending trial.
Stanley is represented by the Federal Defender's Office, which did not immediately return a call on Friday. A DCAA spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment after hours.
Stanley had previously worked as a student aid counselor at the school most targeted in the alleged fraud, which prosecutors described as an online state university based in Adelphi, Maryland.
University of Maryland's Global Campus fits that description. Spokesperson Bob Ludwig declined to comment on Friday.
It is standard for schools to send surplus aid funds to students, and none of the schools have been accused of wrongdoing.
Some students' identities were stolen and others allowed their information to be used, directing the aid reimbursements to accounts Stanley controlled, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said part of the money went to pay writers based in Africa to log on and complete online assignments.
The case is U.S. v. Stanley, U.S. District Court, District Of Maryland, case number unavailable.
For the government: Jessica Harvey and Craig Fansler