Department Of Education Employees Caught Stealing Students’ Personal Information To Apply For Credit Cards, Loans

Fraudsters In Department Of Education Are Caught Stealing Students’ Personal Information To Apply For Loans And Cellphones, And One Worker Looked Up Barack Obama’s Student Loan Records – Daily Mail

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Government employees have been caught stealing students’ personal information to apply for loans, credit cards and set up new cell phone accounts,Daily Mail Online has learned.

Reports on breaches of staff conduct inside the Department of Education shows how workers stole social security numbers from a database while a man was fired for trying to look up President Barack Obama’s student loan records.

Cyber security campaigners warned that the failure to protect sensitive information because of ‘bureaucratic incompetence’ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Insiders involved in illicit breaches are often overlooked, simply because the public think hackers and cybercriminals are more often to blame, they said.

Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Mail Online ‘insiders are frequently part of the breach story’.

He added that entities – especially the government – need to uphold their duty to safeguard other people’s personal information.

Berin Szoka, the president of Tech Freedom, insisted some of the privacy issues come from within the government.

‘As usual, the real privacy problem is government. Big Brother surveillance at the NSA is bad enough,’ he told the Daily Mail Online.

‘But bureaucratic incompetence can be far bigger problem. Failing to protect sensitive student loan data is just the tip of the iceberg of poor data security inside government.’

According to the documents – obtained by the Daily Mail Online through a Freedom of Information Act request – a number of government employees set up an illicit scheme to steal students’ information.

One woman created a bogus Department of Education account to access the National Student Loan Data System to aid her criminal plot.

While accessing the records, she would extract information from individual accounts.

She swapped around the last four digits of her SSN with those of another during the scheme, and set up the fake identity to apply for credit cards, personal loans and set up a Sprint cell phone account.

An internal investigation within the department found she went into the database 24 times between 2006 and 2009 to retrieve the information.

Just 24 hours after searching through the database on one occasion in 2009, the documents revealed she applied for a personal loan.

The unidentified employee was arrested and charged in 2011 for stealing more than $500 using the stolen details.

One of the documents related to her case reads: ‘It appears [the employee] did not have a business reason to run either name in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).’

After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 18 months in jail with a 17-month suspended sentence. However, according to the documents, the employee only served a month in prison and was then given authorized work by a judge.

It’s not known what happened to the other staff members involved in the scheme.

In 2011, a man violated department protocols by trying to access ‘Barrack [sic] Obama’s student loans records. According to the documents he consistently spelled the president’s name wrong – using two ‘r’s.

The employee involved was not prosecuted, but lost his job after departmental staff also discovered he had misused his government-issued travel card.

It is not clear why he tried to access the records as Obama has made the majority of his financial history public knowledge.

He paid off his student loans in in 2004 while he was in the Illinois State Senate. He took out $42,753 in loans to pay for his Harvard Law School tuition while Michelle applied for $40,762 in loans for her Harvard Law education.

The couple carried their debt for 25 years, but the president is believed to have paid it off using $1.9million worth of royalties from his book, Dreams of My Father. It was reissued and became a best seller after his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004.

A third Department of Education employee was investigated in 2014 for using his government email to promote his own business at the taxpayers’ expense. Some of the documents involved have been heavily redacted.

The analysis revealed there were approximately 166 calls totaling 616 minutes or approximately 10 hours of calls during on-duty hours. His calls cost the government approximately $478.36 based on his hourly salary.

He admitted that he shouldn’t have used government equipment – including a scanner, printer, phone and email – for his own personal gain, but it’s not clear what type of business he was operating or whether he was punished.

Another part of the document trove described the investigation into Joseph Butler, a veteran department employee from Clarkstown, Georgia, who accessed child pornography for years.

According to reports he was able to filter his computer activity and get around filtering software preventing government staff from visiting illicit websites.

More than 70 disturbing images were founded embedded in several Microsoft Word documents that were then saved to his government computer.

His Internet browsing history also revealed he had searched for child nudity and pornography.

Butler used his computer to download images onto CD-ROMs, which federal agents found during a search of his home in July 2011. Agents also found graphic stories Butler had written about children.

He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. When he is released he will have to sign up to the sex offenders register and completed five years of supervision.

The Department of Education did not comment on the revelations.

However a report in 2015 addressing ‘management challenges’ highlighted ‘repeated problems in IT security and noted increasing threats and vulnerabilities to the Department’s systems and data.’

The document said more steps needed to be taken to make sure federal employees did not breach the database.

One of the factors considered was a two-step authorization process – but it is yet to be implemented.

In September 2013 the Office of the Inspector General – who oversee the Department’s management – warned officials there were weaknesses led to ‘unauthorized accesses to private information.’

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Senator Vitter Asks Why AG Nominee Didn’t Prosecute Bank Employees Who Laundered Money For Terrorists (Video)

Senator To Loretta Lynch: Why Did No One Go to Jail For Laundering Money To Terrorists? – Daily Signal

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Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, is facing questions about why she let multiple bank employees who funneled millions of dollars to the Iranian government, Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican drug cartels walk away without criminal prosecution.

Sen. David Vitter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today launched an investigation into the matter. He cited the concern as a reason to delay Senate confirmation of Lynch, who was nominated to replace Eric Holder as the chief law enforcement officer in the United States.

“If Loretta Lynch and [the Justice Department] swept under the rug a serious money laundering scheme involving Mexican drug cartels and terrorist organizations, we need to know a heck of a lot more about it,” Vitter told The Daily Signal.

“This is especially true since American citizens may be completely unaware that their identities – including names and Social Security numbers – were compromised in this fraud.”

While serving as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch, along with the Justice Department, oversaw a massive lawsuit against British banking giant HSBC. Bank officials and other employees faced accusations of laundering more than $200 million through its U.S. bank. The employees allegedly opened fake accounts using customers’ private information.

Federal prosecutors accused HSBC of “illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma – all countries that were subject to sanctions enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the time of the transactions.”

Instead of criminally prosecuting those individuals responsible, Lynch helped negotiate a $1.92 billion dollar settlement with HSBC in December 2012.

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During her confirmation hearing for attorney general last month, Lynch said she has been “very aggressive” in pursuing white-collar crime.

“At the outset, no individual is ‘too big to jail.’ And no one is above the law,” she told Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

But in the case of HSBC – one of the most high-profile white-collar crimes to date – no one ever went to jail.

The Daily Signal has reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the lawsuit.

Some, like Vitter, perceive the settlement as nothing more than a “slap on the wrist.” He said: “A simple monetary fine is the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, and would cast serious doubt on Ms. Lynch’s capacity to serve as our top law enforcement official.”

After being tipped off by a WND reporter who has closely followed the case since its onset, Vitter and his staff yesterday spoke with whistleblower John Cruz, a former HSBC manager who took more than 1,000 pages of bank account records and recordings related to the money laundering before being fired.

Following that conversation, Vitter became suspicious about the settlement. For that reason, he plans to delay Lynch’s confirmation process until he has answers.

“There is a very credible whistleblower… who said folks at HSBC knew what was going on, actively were helping use fake bank accounts to help this happen on behalf of drug cartels and terrorists,” Vitter told the Judiciary Committee earlier today.

“That’s pretty serious to end up having a resolution with a pure money fine.”

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Obama’s EPA Paid 8 Employees $1 Million To Do Nothing

Taxpayers Paid 8 EPA Employees $1 Million To Do Nothing – Washington Free Beacon

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kept employees on paid administrative leave for years, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.

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An “Early Warning” report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Wednesday revealed that eight employees racked up 20,926 hours of paid administrative leave, including some employees who were paid not to work for four years.

The eight employees cost taxpayers $1,096,868 alone. The report is in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis released last month that found government-wide paid administrative leave cost $3.1 billion from 2011 and 2013.

The GAO report detailed that the EPA paid 69 employees to not work for 4,711 days between 2011 and 2013, costing $17,550,100.

The OIG analyzed paid leave for this year, focusing on eight employees who took the most paid leave. Half of the employees were on paid administrative leave for more than a year, including one EPA employee who was paid from May 2010 until September 2014, costing taxpayers $351,300.

The amount of paid leave taken by these employees may be higher, the OIG said, since several were missing timesheets during their period of paid leave.

The OIG report was categorized as addressing the goal of “Embracing EPA as a high-performing organization.”

The EPA allows for paid administrative leave for voting, funerals, donating blood, and bad weather. However, all eight employees were on paid administrative leave for at least four months.

The EPA’s leave manual offers no determination for what is considered an “acceptable amount of administrative leave.”

The OIG pointed out that employees could be placed on long-term paid leave for disciplinary reasons.

“The leave manual also provides that one authorized use of administrative leave is when an employee’s removal or indefinite suspension is proposed, and the employee’s continued presence at the work site during the notice period would constitute a threat to public property or the health and safety of coworkers or the public.”

The EPA has had to deal with employees who have threatened the work environment for their fellow workers before.

The OIG presented its findings to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Oct. 30, and the agency is currently reviewing background information on the employees in question.

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Socialist Party Demands $20 Minimum Wage, But Insists It Shouldn’t Have To Pay Its Employees $20 An Hour

Socialist Party Demanding $20 Minimum Wage Insists It Should Not Be Subject To $20 Minimum Wage – Daily Caller

The socialist party in Seattle that wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour but advertised a job last week for an experienced web developer paying just $13 per hour is now defending itself.

The Huffington Post, which was sued by a bunch of unpaid bloggers after founder Arianna Huffington sold the website for $315 million, has the story.

The argument from the Freedom Socialist Party is that it cannot afford the minimum wage it seeks to impose on every commercial entity in America.

Doug Barnes, the Freedom Socialist Party’s national secretary, claimed that the collectivist political organization shouldn’t be subject to its own wage demands because it is a nonprofit that receives revenue from leftist contributors.

“We’re practicing what we’re preaching in terms of continuing to fight for the minimum wage,” Barnes told the HuffPo. “But we can’t pay a lot more than $13.”

Barnes also suggested that the Freedom Socialist Party would make more money off the backs of the low-wage workers he claims make many contributions if the federal government or state governments forced businesses to pay employees a minimum of $20 per hour.

“Our donor base would all be affected, and the low-wage workers who support us with $5 to $6 a month would be able to give more,” he told HuffPo. “That would affect our ability to pay higher wages as well.”

He noted that he personally supports a $22 per hour minimum wage.

According to his Facebook page, Barnes is a graduate of the Evergreen State College.

His Facebook “likes” include Occupy Seattle, Syrian Revolution Support Bases, El Centro de la Raza, Mumia Abu Jamal and Bay Area Radical Women.

Despite his spirited defense of the help wanted ad, Barnes added that the Freedom Socialist Party has since removed its ad from both Indeed.com and Craigslist.

“The right-wing attack is very hypocritical,” the socialist – who wants a $20 minimum wage but has sought a $13-per-hour web developer – lamented.

The Daily Caller predicted such an outcome, by the way, and saved a screenshot of the ad as it appeared at Indeed.com. You can see it below.

In 2012, the Freedom Socialist Party’s national platform championed “full employment” and an increase in the minimum wage “to $20 an hour” for all employees in all jobs.

The Freedom Socialist Party’s 2012 political platform also demanded a 70 percent tax rate for “the top 1 percent”; “free multi-lingual public education, including ethnic studies, through college and trade school”; free abortions; bank nationalization; and the cancellation of all free-trade treaties.

Despite last week’s offer of a part-time, 20-hour-per-week, $13-per-hour job, the party also called for a 30-hour work week for everyone “with no cut in pay” and “a guaranteed annual income.”

A part-time web developer making $13 per hour and working 20 hours per week would bring home about $13,600 annually, before taxes.

The Seattle headquarters of the Freedom Socialist Party appears to be located in an apartment building directly across the street from a Bank of America branch.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Obama’s IRS Says It Has Lost Emails From 5 More Employees (Video)

IRS Says It Has Lost Emails From 5 More Employees – Big Government

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status.

The tax agency said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.

On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.

The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

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Study: Half Of American Public School Employees Are Non-Teachers

Maybe Johnny Can’t Read Because These Workers Crowd Out Teachers – Daily Signal

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Half of America’s public school employees aren’t classroom teachers, according to a new study. Instead, they’re non-teaching personnel such as instructional aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, and librarians.

It hasn’t always been this way.

The study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit think tank specializing in education policy, found that the number of non-teaching staff grew by 130 percent from 1970 to 2010. Their salaries and benefits account for one-quarter of current education spending.

To show where each state is on the spectrum between least and most non-teaching personnel per 1,000 students, Fordham created this map:

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So why are non-teachers on the rise? The Fordham Institute left that up to school district and state education officials to explain.

By using national, state, and local data, though, “The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don’t Teach” attempts to draw attention to what some education experts consider an alarming trend.

By a wide margin, Nevada and South Carolina public schools had the fewest non-teaching workers per 1,000 students, at 26 and 28 respectively, the study found. Virginia, Vermont, and Wyoming had the most at 104, as the chart below shows.

Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, argues for reducing the number of non-instructional and administrative positions in public schools:

States should consider cutting costs in areas that are long overdue for reform and pursue systemic reform to improve student achievement. Specifically, states should refrain from continuing to increase the number of non-teaching staff in public schools.

Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, told The Daily Signal that the results of the study should encourage policymakers to “raise tough questions about whether these trends are helping or hurting children.”

Among the most significant findings of “The Hidden Half’,” the authors say in a release on the study:

Since 1950, school staffing has increased nearly 500 percent, and non-teaching personnel played a major part in that growth. Passage of several pieces of federal legislation – Section 504, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and Title IX (Equal Opportunity in Education Act) – likely were instrumental in changing the makeup of schools.

America spends far more on non-teaching staff (as a percentage of education spending) than do most of the nation’s economic peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. spends more than double what Korea, Mexico, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Spain do. Only Denmark spends more.

States vary in staffing their schools, but much of the variation is because of differences within their borders. States with a large proportion of the population living in cities tend to have fewer workers per student. (See chart below.)

The category of teacher aides has been the largest gainer over the past 40 years. From 1970 to 2010, aides went from nearly non-existent to the largest group of workers other than teachers.

School districts vary greatly in number of employees, but the differences likely stem from staffing decisions made by leaders. Although factors such as location (rural, suburban, urban) and number of students in special education matter, they don’t explain most of the variation across school districts.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Lois Lerner Warned IRS Employees To Hide Information From Congress

GOP: Lerner Warned IRS Employees To Hide Information From Congress – Washington Times

Just as the IRS tea party targeting scandal was erupting, Lois G. Lerner warned colleagues to “be cautious” about what information they put in emails because it could end up being turned over to Congress, according to an email message released Wednesday.

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The 2013 email exchange between Ms. Lerner and fellow employees at the Internal Revenue Service also says that instant message conversations were probably never stored and weren’t checked during open-records requests – even though they also fell under the law requiring electronic records to be stored.

“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013, message.

She went on to ask whether the instant message communications were stored automatically. When a tech staffer said no but the records could be stored if employees copied them, she replied, “Perfect.”

“Why did it take us this long to get these emails? We’ve been after this for six months,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who raised the emails with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday.

Mr. Jordan said the emails were part of a pattern of Ms. Lerner trying to hide her activities, following on the crash of her computer hard drive two years earlier, which erased thousands of messages.

Mr. Koskinen said he hadn’t seen the email before but questioned the connections Mr. Jordan was drawing.

“I don’t see anything in here where Lois Lerner says, ‘Wow, I got rid of my earlier emails and now I’ve got to check on it,’” the commissioner said.

Ms. Lerner’s email warning to colleagues to be careful about what they said in electronic communications issued less than two weeks after the IRS internal auditor shared a draft report with the agency accusing it of targeting tea party and other conservative groups.

A month after the email, Ms. Lerner would plant a question at a conference to reveal the scandal, just before the inspector general’s report was made public.

Ms. Lerner’s email was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, more than a year after lawmakers sought it as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting.

Republicans said the email shows Ms. Lerner was aware that Congress was investigating the agency and that she was preparing to intentionally hide agency discussions from lawmakers.

Ms. Lerner’s email record has become a major scandal in and of itself after the IRS revealed that her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, causing the agency to lose thousands of her messages.

The IRS tried to recover some of the messages by asking others on the email chain to dig through their mailboxes, but the agency acknowledged that some messages may be permanently lost.

Some Republicans have questioned whether the IRS took enough steps to try to recover the emails from the hard drive in 2011.

The head of the National Archives testified to Congress that the IRS likely broke federal records laws by not storing Ms. Lerner’s emails properly.

IRS policy was to print out emails that constituted official records, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.

Mr. Koskinen testified to Congress that he believed Ms. Lerner had printed out some emails. But Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, told the Politico online magazine that she didn’t know she was required print out emails and therefore did not do so.

On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor released a statement saying that “is not entirely accurate” and blamed a “misunderstanding.”

“During her tenure as director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received,” Mr. Taylor said.

“The facts are that Ms. Lerner did not destroy any records subject to the Federal Records Act, she did not cause the computer assigned to her to fail, and she made every effort to recover the files on the computer,” the lawyer said.

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