Fraudulent Enrollments Hit California Community Colleges Hard Due to Online Learning – The American River Current
Fraudulent student accounts linked to possible financial aid fraud
American River College and other Los Rios colleges have been hit by a wave of suspected fraudulent enrollments, which has also affected other colleges in the state, according to the Los Rios Community College District.
“Fraudulent enrollment … is defined as a student who enrolls in a course but is subsequently withdrawn due to suspected fraud,” said Frank Kobayashi, vice president of education at American River College, in an email to Current.
In an article from August 31, the Los Angeles Times reported that fraudulent student accounts were linked to possible financial aid fraud.
There are 116 community colleges in the state, and the systems that represent the colleges are increasing their security measures after finding that 20% of related activity was “malicious and bot-related,” according to thand LA Times and one memo issued by Valérie Lundy-Wagner, Acting Vice Chancellor of Digital Innovation and Infrastructure at California Community Colleges.
Software used in most colleges has helped catch abusers.
A program called Imperva Advanced Bot Detection has somewhat helped contain fraudulent registrations, “catching nearly 15% of traffic,” Lundy Wagner said in the memo.
“Cases of fraudulent registration have occurred on California campuses, particularly near their homes, in the Los Rios Community College district,” said Gabe Ross, associate vice chancellor of strategy and communications for LRCCD.
All four colleges were targeted, Ross said in an informed email.
“We are working closely with leaders across the state on plans to address this issue and continue to ensure that it does not have a wider impact on our students, faculty or staff,” Ross said in an email to Current.
According to Kobayashi, the CRA has seen numerous cases of registration fraud.
“There have been at least 1,200 confirmed cases of registration fraud. We have a daily process in place that identifies registrations that may be fraudulent, and after a verification process, we promptly deregistered them and closed access to all district and college services, ”Kobayashi said.
Kobayashi also detailed the consequences of a fraudulent registration.
“All fraudulent applicants are immediately excluded from all classes in Los Rios, their access to all college and district services is terminated and they are flagged for future applications,” Kobayashi said.
Kobayashi says the district is committed to ending fraudulent registrations.
“It’s clear that across the state there are bad actors trying to take advantage of vulnerabilities in our networks,” Kobayashi said. “American River College and the Los Rios Community College District are committed to reducing information and cybersecurity threats during the admission and onboarding process. We are also committed to ensuring access to all legitimate students.