Seven people, including an Orange County, CA, business owner have been indicted on several charges, after scamming approximately 19,000 people in a nationwide scam.
The scam itself was carried out over the span of three years and targeted those with student loans, promising debt relief for a small fee.
- Years scam was active: 2017-2020
- Number of people targeted: ~380,000
- Total victims: ~19,000
- Total money stolen: ~$6.1 million
- Angela Kathryn Mirabella, 47
- Cesar Sandoval-Vilchis, 35
- Stephen Allen Gamboa, 39
- Briana Nacole Graham, 35
- Matthew Bruce Walsh, 27
- Teresa Marie Lovato, 45
- Paulina Francine Pacheco, 32
Founder of The Mirabella Group LLC, Student Renew LLC, and My Financial Solutions, Angela Kathryn Mirabella, 47, was arrested along with six others this week following an investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.
It is alleged that the defendants contacted thousands of people across the country over three years promising student loan debt relief for a fee of around $1,000. The fee was supposedly used to put toward the loan balances.
If the borrowers weren't interested in the offer or hesitated in any way, the scammers would use pressure tactics, saying the offer was only available for a limited time and was a deal too good to pass up.
Fees were paid by almost 20,000 victims but they never received any kind of debt relief. California State Attorney General, Rob Bonta, said that on top of not getting any help with their student loans, victims were often left with increased interest rates, late notices, and loan defaults.
California Attorney General, Rob Bonta
Our students worked hard to achieve their college dreams, but for some, their dreams have become horrific nightmares.
They were swindled; they were scammed.
The scheme was operated by Mirabella who owned the "debt relief businesses" in Orange County, two sales agents, and four call center managers. They impersonated representatives of the U.S. Department of Education and promised lower payments.
All face charges, including:
- Grand theft by false pretenses
- Unauthorized use of personal identifying information
- Unauthorized computer access and fraud
Mirabella faces additional charges for money laundering and aggravated white-collar crime, which total over $2.5 million.
Bonta states that the Department of Education won't ever charge you fees to qualify for a loan forgiveness program or change your loan repayment plan. If you've fallen for this scam or a similar student loan scam, report it to the authorities.