Yesterday I received a critical comment from a reader who took me to task for not identifying the name of the company associated with a student loan scam.
Criticism can be hard to hear — especially when it is justified.
For many years, it’s been my personal policy not to identify scammers by name. I know it would make this site more useful, and I also know that a list of known scammers would be a great resource. Sadly, I’m not able to provide this form of assistance.
I wish my reasons were better or more noble, but in the interest of transparency, I’ll explain how we reached this point. More importantly, I’ll share how I can still help if you have questions about a potential student loan scam.
My History with Scammers
In the early days of this site, around 2014, I caught wind of a student loan scam from a friend.
She was actually thinking about giving them money!
The scammer site had a very polished look, and the “volunteers” on the phone were quite convincing.
I had a phone call with the scammer, recorded things, took extensive notes, and published a detailed article explaining why this was a scam. I included the name of the company in my article.
This article received a lot of attention and reached the top of the Google rankings for the company’s name. I was successfully warning many people and helping them avoid an expensive scam.
Things Get Ugly When You Shine a Light on Scammers
I shouldn’t have been surprised when the scammers came after me, but it still caught me off guard.
They left numerous harassing phone calls. They plastered negative comments about me on this site and others. Eventually, they threatened lawsuits and said they would have me disbarred.
The lesson I learned is that scammers don’t play by the same rules the rest of us do. They can say whatever they want. They don’t care if accusations are truthful.
The scammer operation that I outed was part of a fairly sophisticated organization. I was — and still am — a single person running this site.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this company was pulling in millions of dollars duping student loan borrowers. My negative article was a threat to their business. They were willing to fight dirty, resulting in a terrifying experience for me.
Ending the Situation
I was certain that everything I published was truthful. I also knew there were laws in place to protect individuals from malicious lawsuits like the ones I was threatened with.
As an attorney, I also recognized the reality of the situation. At the time, I was a young prosecutor with no reputation or connections. I built the Student Loan Sherpa in my spare time to help other borrowers. My integrity being called into question was a serious issue. Any potential lawsuit could still cost me time and money.
It was all very stressful.
I eventually took down my article. Larger sites had picked up on my observations, and the word was out. I’m not proud of the decision, but I don’t regret it either.
The happy ending, from my perspective, is that the FTC eventually shut this company down. The defendants in the case were permanently banned from ever working with student loan borrowers.
Eventual Goals for the Student Loan Sherpa
I’d love to go after student loan scammers in the future.
I’m confident that investigating them and publishing my results would help many unsuspecting borrowers.
Sadly, this sort of operation is quite risky and expensive. I’d need a team of attorneys on call to address threats and litigation. If this site continues to grow, expect to see a list of known student loan scammers.
For now, I have to be practical.
When I come across a student loan scam, usually from a reader question, I take the following three steps:
- I alert the FTC and the attorney general’s office of the state where the scammers are located.
- I publish an article that describes the scam generally if it is a new format or scheme.
- I tell the reader it is probably a scam and direct them to the appropriate resources for resolving scams.
Sadly, I’m not able to name names or shine a light on the specific companies and individuals perpetrating scams. At this time, I can’t handle the potential risks and negative consequences.
Even though this site isn’t able to live up to its full potential in fighting scams, there are plenty of tools currently available:
If you have any concerns about a person or company potentially being a student loan scam, please use the above link to send me an email. I am happy to offer a far more blunt assessment to individual readers with specific questions.