How The U.S. Government Tricked Hundreds Of Students Into Attending A Fake University

In the United States, higher education comes at a high cost. And in the case of for-profit colleges, it can be highway robbery. NPR reports that more than 200,000 students have filed claims for compensation after these shady colleges defrauded them. Those literally poor souls have have been saddled with massive debt because dishonest institutions used their lying mouths to write checks their butts couldn't cash. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has been complicit in that travesty, thanks to Department of Higher Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who repeatedly refused to honor the government's promise to forgive tens of thousands of debts because, in her words, "All one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money." 

But at least DeVos was held in contempt of court, and that court ordered the Department of Higher Education to pay $100,000 for insisting on collecting loan payments from students duped by defunct for-profit colleges. The same can't be said for the hundreds of foreign students that the government tricked into paying tuition for a fake university before arresting them.

Learning the hard way

Forbes reports that since the start of 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested roughly 250 students, most of whom hail from India, as part of a sting operation. They were among 600 people who enrolled at what they thought was the University of Farmington in Michigan and paid around $12,000 a year in tuition and fees. It had no physical facilities to attend and no classes, but the Washington Post notes that the Department of Homeland Security included the University of Farmington on its "list of certified schools where international students can enroll."

ICE officials allege that the students knew it was a ruse and were attempting to "abuse" the system to obtain visas under false pretenses. There were clues that Farmington was simply harvesting money, such as the use of stock photos and, you know, the lack of actual school. However, Forbes points out that some of the detained students were only briefly enrolled. Moreover, students who went digging for info on how legitimate Farmington was, were "given the runaround" by phony administrators, and ICE posted phony testimonials by satisfied alumni. 

About 80 percent of the students detained in the sting were voluntarily deported, but some have contested their arrests, citing entrapment. ICE claimed that "the students had entered the United States legally on F-1 visas after being accepted to legitimate schools and had later transferred to the University of Farmington." That may suggest criminal intent, but what if, like many Americans tricked into taking out loans for bogus colleges, many of these foreign nationals just placed their faith in something too good to be true?