Air Force Veteran Allegedly Scammed out of over $135,000 by Former Coworker
Inside Subprime: May 15, 2019
By Aubrey Sitler
According to a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Air Force veteran Jim Carter was approached by a former coworker who claimed that her son was attending Ivy Tech and having trouble with his student loans. Carter had worked with the former colleague at the City of Kokomo Planning Commission, so when she provided Carter with dozens of emails that looked like they were from the U.S. Department of Education and student loan servicers, he did not think twice about whether or not he was being scammed. Carter had no idea that the emails were fake and that his former colleague’s son had not been a student at Ivy Tech since 2012.
In the two-year period between the first and last payments Carter made to help with the son’s “debts,” Carter paid various amounts ranging from $100 to $1,000 and totaling $134,665.
According to Betsy DeNardi, director of consumer protection at the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, “It’s a large amount of money from one specific person… We often have cases where a person has lost a few hundred dollars, but this is the most recent instance where one person has lost a significant amount of money.”
Carter passed away on September 30, 2015—well before this lawsuit was filed and while still in the midst of this financially destructive scam. He was 68.
According to his son, the’ scheme wrecked his father financially and contributed to the stress that led to his death. “I think my father would be alive today if this hadn’t happened,” Carter’s son told a local news station. “His house was in foreclosure, his most prized possessions were in the pawn shop. I think it just destroyed him.”
According to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, the former colleague violated the Senior Consumer Protection Act. The money they told Carter would be spent on student loans did not, in fact, go toward his education; instead, they spent that money on themselves. While the former coworker and her son have not been criminally charged in conjunction with this case, the prosecutor’s office is aware of it. The Attorney General’s office is asking a judge to prevent the two from seeking or getting assets and property from anyone over the age of 60 in hopes of preventing more proliferated and targeted elder abuse from this fraudulent family. The lawsuit also seeks $403,995 in restitution—three times the actual monetary amount Carter paid.
Furthermore, the Indiana Attorney General’s office reminds its citizens to exercise caution when loaning money—even to someone known and trusted.
“Anybody can be defrauded out of money by someone they know,” DeNardi said. “People in Indiana and the Midwest are more likely to trust people that you know. This can happen to someone who is 32 years old and this can happen to someone who is 82 years old.”
Carter’s son hopes that this story will increase others’ awareness of these kinds of scams. “You just have to be vigilant,” he said. “I think this was something my father wanted to hide, and he was a little embarrassed this was happening.”