Fast Train College may have had, “Get on the Fast Train!” as its jingle but it certainly wasn’t assumed by those hearing it that it meant get on the fast train to debt and fraud. The school ran seven campuses at one point and had ties to a congressman. It offered courses in computer and medical training and promised its students a whole new life free of economic disparity and struggle. This criminal conspiracy came to an end when a federal indictment was filed accusing Fast Train of defrauding the government and ripping off students and taxpayers.
The indictment claims that Fast Trains track to success was, in reality, only the quick way to land yourself in hot water and didn’t provide its students with any usable education as the majority of students lacked the previous education necessary to even enroll or receive federal funding. Students were coerced and coached to lie on federal applications in order for Fast Track to fast track its bankroll.
The computer courses which promised students value laden, current education were completed on equipment and software so outdated it had not been used in the industry for years. Students were lied to and told they weren’t taking out, or wouldn’t have to take out any loans for their educational opportunity but would have access to scholarships and grants. How this was possible when most had not graduated from high school and had no diploma or GED equivalency is quite the miracle. Students were unknowingly signing up for loans or couldn’t even read the applications well enough to know what they were committing to and were coached at what to put in each box on the applications. Students ended up with non-existent education and staggering amounts of debt they had no hope of paying.
Alejandro Amor, CEO, wasn’t worried…he was living the highlife like he just won the lottery. He and his family were sharing their great fortune with the world by posting their fabulous vacation photos at luxurious destinations, showing off how great they looked in their Jaguar, luxury yacht, or at their waterfront home. Don’t forget the private plane to get to all these fantastic places, people this rich just don’t take commercial flights. Their students, on the other hand, would be struggling to put food on the table for years to come.
The FBI with its indictment and lawsuit were trying to tear down those ill-gotten gains and get their hands on all of these wonderful assets which were paid for off the backs of the taxpayers. Additional charges were filed against admissions representative, Anthony Mincey, and admissions representative, Jose Gonzalez for their participation in the grand scheme.
Government regulation requires that all students entering such programs have a high school diploma or equivalency in order to receive funding from its federal programs. This proved rather easy to overcome for fraudsters at Fast Train; it simply manufactured documents where necessary, told students they were taking an equivalency exam, and handed them their fictitious Cornerstone Christian Academy diplomas. In total, it was discovered that 1,300 students enrolled in the program didn’t have the required previous education.
This added up to over $6.5 million in federal financial aid and Pell grants, not including moneys from other programs, private student loans, or cash payments received. One such campus would get its admisions representatives to drive around low-income neighborhoods and coerce people into getting into their cars. Students were brought back to campus to sign up for school because they had just been told they would receive high quality education and lucrative jobs and be on the Fast Track to success. Many of these students couldn’t read or write in English, couldn’t write their own names, or even had government issue identity cards.
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