Metro couple gets prison sentences for student loan scam

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    AURORA | A metro-area couple who bilked the state and federal government — as well Community College of Aurora and other schools — in a student loan scam have been sentenced to prison.

    Raquel A. Espinoza, 37, and George F. Durbin, 55, both pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office in Denver. Espinoza was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $262,853 in restitution. Durbin was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $183,806 in restitution.

    According to the statement from prosecutors, the couple applied for financial aid and pocketed the money with no intent to attend classes.

    In addition to applying for money and enrolling for classes in their own names, the couple also used other people’s names. In some cases, those people were aware of what they were doing, in others they weren’t, prosecutors said.

    Once financial aid covered tuition and fees, the schools deposited the remainder in accounts associated with the couple, prosecutors said. The couple used much of that money to gamble, prosecutors said.

    “The defendants not only victimized government college financial aid programs, but victimized students and others by hijacking their personal information and identities to steal financial aid funds,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement.