2 Former College Students Face Identity Theft Charges Over COVID-19 Aid

Two former Louisiana college students were charged with conspiring to fraudulently obtain CARES Act funds that had been earmarked for college students.Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said the two conspired to defraud students from Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, by hacking the college portal to apply for financial aid grants using the names of other students.Hayden Philip Breaux, 21, and D’Quincy Marquis Jones, 23, both of Louisiana, allegedly used student identification numbers and passwords to apply for emergency financial aid grants, according to a March 25 press release. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and five counts of identity theft.The pair allegedly directed payments toward their own bank accounts between June 5 and June 20, 2020, according to the DOJ statement.Louisiana College received the emergency funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Passed by Congress in March 2020, the CARES Act allocated $2.2 trillion in stimulus funds to provide economic assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.“Louisiana College has and will continue to cooperate fully with the federal investigation,” Elizabeth Clarke, Louisiana College communications director, said in the press release. “Once college officials discovered possible fraudulent activity by grant recipients in June 2020, we immediately notified law enforcement officials and an investigation ensued.” The statement said neither Breaux nor Jones is a current Louisiana College student.   

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