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Federal Worker Raided Student Data For Identity Theft

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Employees at the U.S. Department of Education have repeatedly treated the U.S. government’s trove of student information as a personal playground and piggy bank, according to a Freedom of Information Act release obtained by the Daily Mail.

One employee spent only a month in jail after she was caught stealing the identities of students and using them to take out loans and buy phones, while another used his position to illegally fish for the student loan information of President Barack Obama.

The federal government has made student loans to tens of millions of students, and according to the released documents, an unnamed federal employee treated her job as an opportunity to enrich herself by rifling through their personal information. From 2006 to 2009, she searched the government’s National Student Loan Data System more than 20 times in order to steal the Social Security numbers of students who shared her name. She then used these stolen identities to apply for loans and to open up cell phone accounts with Sprint.

The employee got away with this for about five years before finally being caught by the department’s police force in 2011. She was charged with identity fraud and theft in excess of $500. After a guilty plea, she was sentenced to 18 months, but only served one month, while the other 17 were suspended.

The Daily Mail’s inquiry found other cases of bizarre wrongdoing by the department’s 5,000 employees, including one worker who was caught searching for the student loan records of “Barrack Obama” (sic), apparently unaware that the president has already made most of his student loan details public. Another was caught after using his government computer for several years to access and download child pornography.

The Department of Education could not be immediately reached for comment, as the voicemail inbox used to receive press requests was full and could accept no further messages.

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