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Eight people have been charged in a scam to bilk Philadelphia’s Temple University out of $76,000 after allegedly posing as part-time students to take advantage of a prompt tuition refund policy. Prosecutors say the alleged fraud proved so successful at Temple, the suspects allegedly began to use same ruse at the University of Maryland and the DeVry Institute of Technology in Decatur, Ga. “This was a deliberate scheme to take advantage of a student-friendly university,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said Friday in announcing the charges. Prosecutors alleged the suspects enrolled in classes at Temple using phony names and Social Security numbers, and deliberately overpaid tuition using bad checks. Temple officials then refunded the overpayments before realizing the checks were drawing on empty bank accounts. The suspects cashed the refunds, and in most cases, withdrew from school before taking any classes, prosecutors said. Three of the suspects surrendered and a fourth was in federal custody on an unrelated drug charge in Wilmington, Del. Four others were being sought, prosecutors said. The alleged fraud was uncovered when Temple officials became suspicious about a new round of applications and tuition checks for a particular continuing-education class, according to Temple’s head of security, Carl Bittenbender. The university has since changed its refund policies, Bittenbender said. Formerly, students who were overcharged or who overpaid tuition were sent refunds within seven business days. Now they have to wait until the university verifies the original check has cleared, Bittenbender said. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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