Recent headlines have shed a harsh light on fraudulent enrollments into California’s colleges. According to the California Community Chancellor’s office, about 20% of California’s community college applications are scams. That’s more than 460,000 applications in the state’s online system.  

While higher education has always been an attractive target for fraudsters, some restrictions on proof of eligibility were lifted during COVID-19 to help make college access easier for those caught in difficult circumstances during the pandemic. Now, these fraudsters use this opportunity to apply not only for college, but specifically to access financial aid – limiting college space and funds for real, deserving students.  

A criminal justice professor from Pierce College – one of LARC’s #19Strong – shared insights on how to spot these faux students. Pictured above, and quoted, Kim Rich shared tools for instructors and colleges to look for in spotting fake enrollments. This includes consecutive ID numbers, similar email patterns that don’t match a student’s name, and birthdates from the 60’s or 70’s – which are non-traditional student ages.  

LARC supports students of all backgrounds, including those who have returned to school after many years of work and life. So, we also encourage all of our educators to be both cautious and welcoming. This chronic criminal activity targeting our school community is unacceptable, and we can all play a part in catching perpetrators.