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July 22, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Course-Related Fraud

While many students have stretched the truth when applying for student loans and allowances, one student has taken it a step further.

Stacey Jane Curtis, also known as Natasha Lee Watts, used nine fake identities to obtain $43,000 worth of student loans and allowances between 2008 and 2010. She was sentenced to four-and-a-half months’ home detention after pleading guilty to 23 counts of fraud.

Watts was studying in Auckland at the time, working what the Ministry of Social Development described as a “sophisticated and cunning scheme”. Watts is currently enrolled in a personal-development course at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, which the Judge called a “positive direction”.

While this offending was of a greater magnitude than most, students taking out loans from StudyLink often utilise loopholes in the system. Parents understating their income for their child to receive the Student Allowance, and collecting living costs to invest and receive interest payments are two of the more common methods.

StudyLink urges students to report if a person is using a false identity or details to receive student support. This may occur if they have withdrawn from a course, dropped a paper or changed their course and not told StudyLink, or if they live with a partner but say they’re living alone, among other things.

You can report suspected loan fraud to StudyLink’s Allegation Line on 0800 556 006.

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