$8 million in Grant Fraud at NSF

By: Tonya Mead, CFE, PI, MBA,MA Educational Psychology

As reported here and elsewhere, crime syndicates are known to operate student financial aid scams by recruiting straw students to commit fraud.  A new crime type has been brewing. The OIG at the National Science Foundation (NSF) have investigated individuals involved with elaborate schemes to fraudulently apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.   A ring of criminals conspired together to receive approximately 30 grants totaling over $8 million from NSF, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture.

How did they commit their crimes?  For reference, NSF awards $7 billion per year to more than 50,000 researchers in support of engineering and technology.  The criminals, prepared grant proposals for non-existent projects, submitted them to the federal agencies for funding, and maintained correspondence to the granting agencies by misrepresenting their identities and the identities of their employees. These criminals even created shell companies to falsify outside investments and created fake letters of support.

The NSF and other federal agencies were duped into awarding grant funds that were deposited into bank accounts controlled by the criminals and withdrawn for their own personal use. Ultimately, three people were arrested. For more information, on specific details the OIG, NSF report can be read here.

Tonya J. Mead, CFE, PI, MBA, MA, Certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer and president of Shared Knowledge, LLC https://ishareknowledge.com