Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Terry Harris, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Eastern Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (“ED-OIG”), announced today the unsealing of a criminal complaint charging CATHERINE SEEMER with wire fraud, federal financial aid fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme that resulted in the fraudulent discharge of over $10.5 million worth of student loans on the basis of falsified medical certifications of permanent disabilities. SEEMER was arrested this morning and will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Andrew E. Krause.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program is designed to help ease the financial burden of those who suffer from permanent physical or mental disabilities, including military veterans who endure service-related disabilities, by relieving them of their student loan obligations. As alleged, the defendant defrauded this program for her own benefit. She stole the identities of more than a dozen medical doctors and falsified the disabilities of more than 100 borrowers in order to profit from the multi-year scheme, which resulted in the fraudulent discharge of over $10.5 million in loans. This Office, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to vigilantly protect the integrity of critical programs that exist to help those who are most in need.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, Ms. Seemer fraudulently orchestrated the discharge of student loans in excess of $10 million on behalf of more than 100 borrowers she led to believe were eligible for various forms of student-loan relief. She ultimately reaped more than $1 million in ill-gotten gains by charging borrowers fees in exchange for her “services.” The action we have taken today is yet another example of the FBI’s commitment to protecting government programs from fraudsters who seek to undermine them for their own selfish purposes.”
ED-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Terry Harris said: “Tracking down those who cheat the Federal student aid programs is a priority of our office. The OIG is committed to fighting student aid fraud in all its forms and we will continue to pursue anyone who participates in these types of crimes.”
As alleged in the Complaint filed today in White Plains federal court:
From June 2017 through March 2022, SEEMER orchestrated a scheme to cause the fraudulent discharge of millions of dollars’ worth of student loans for borrowers who did not qualify for relief under the federal Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program and its private analogue. As part of the scheme, SEEMER deceived over 100 borrowers into believing they qualified for various forms of student loan relief and charged them fees—often between 10% and 20% of the loan amount—to facilitate their loan discharge process. She then used the personal identifying information of the unsuspecting borrowers to submit fraudulent applications for student loan discharge on the basis of non-existent permanent physical and mental disabilities. In support of these applications, SEEMER used the stolen identities, medical license numbers, and forged signatures of over a dozen medical doctors to falsify medical diagnoses and disability certifications. The scheme resulted in the wrongful discharge of over approximately $10.5 million in loans under the disability-based relief programs. It is estimated that SEEMER earned at least approximately $1 million as a result of the scheme.
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CATHERINE SEEMER, 42, of Elmsford, New York, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of federal financial aid fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General. Mr. Williams noted that the investigation is ongoing.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Qais Ghafary is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitutes only allegations, and every fact described therein should be treated as an allegation.