A nurse practitioner has been arrested in connection with a scheme that resulted in the fraudulent discharge of over $10.5 million worth of student loans on the basis of falsified medical certifications of permanent disabilities, federal authorities announced.
Westchester County resident Catherine Seemer, age 42, of Elmsford, has been charged with the following, according to Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York:
- One count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison;
- One count of federal financial aid fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison;
- One count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
“The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program is designed to help ease the financial burden of those who suffer from permanent physical or mental disabilities, including military veterans who endure service-related disabilities, by relieving them of their student loan obligations," Williams said in a statement. "As alleged, the defendant defrauded this program for her own benefit.
"She stole the identities of more than a dozen medical doctors and falsified the disabilities of more than 100 borrowers in order to profit from the multi-year scheme, which resulted in the fraudulent discharge of over $10.5 million in loans."
It is estimated that Seemer earned at least approximately $1 million as a result of the scheme, Williams said.
As alleged in the complaint filed in White Plains Federal Court:
- From June 2017 through March 2022, Seemer orchestrated a scheme to cause the fraudulent discharge of millions of dollars’ worth of student loans for borrowers who did not qualify for relief under the federal Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program and its private analogue.
- As part of the scheme, Seemer deceived over 100 borrowers into believing they qualified for various forms of student loan relief and charged them fees — often between 10 percent and 20 percent of the loan amount — to facilitate their loan discharge process.
- She then used the personal identifying information of the unsuspecting borrowers to submit fraudulent applications for student loan discharge on the basis of non-existent permanent physical and mental disabilities.
- In support of these applications, Seemer used the stolen identities, medical license numbers, and forged signatures of over a dozen medical doctors to falsify medical diagnoses and disability certifications.
- The scheme resulted in the wrongful discharge of over approximately $10.5 million in loans under the disability-based relief programs.
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