Three women were arrested Friday for the alleged theft of nearly $1 million in federal student loans.
The suspects were identified as Nyisha Ramsey, 43, of Lancaster, Dionne Ramsey, 36, of Las Vegas, (Nyisha’s sister) and Sharyn Barney, 62, of Lancaster, (Nyisha’s mother-in-law), by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The three women are accused of obtaining around $980,000 in student loans using stolen identities, some of which belonged to California inmates, authorities said.
From January 2012 to August 2017, the suspects obtained stolen names and Social Security numbers to fraudulently enroll in an Orange County community college.
The suspects posed as fake students while applying for funds through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program. They directed all stolen funds to their personal bank accounts which were used for personal expenses and not college tuition, authorities said.
All three defendants were arrested on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud.
Dionne Ramsey faces four additional counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.
“Nyisha Ramsey and Barney were arraigned and have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them,” court documents said. “Dionne Ramsey, who made her initial court appearance on Thursday in the District of Nevada, is expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles in the coming weeks.”
If convicted of all charges, each suspect could face up to 30 years in prison for each count, officials said.