- September 2, 2020
FORT MYERS — A Fort Myers woman who owns a school designed to improve students’ employability skills faces charges for an alleged scheme to defraud the federal student loan program of at least $100,000.
Elaine M. Levidow, 60, has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of Federal Student Assistance fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Tampa.
Levidow owned and operated the Training Domain, an educational institution in Fort Myers that “held itself out as offering business software application courses to improve the employability skills of individuals,” the release states. The school qualified to receive U.S. Department of Education Title IV Federal Student Assistance (FSA) on behalf of students.
From roughly July 2017 through April 2019, Levidow solicited students to enroll in her school and assisted them in applying for financial aid in the form of Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans. But rather than use the loan and grant proceeds to hold classes at the Training Domain and for other educational expenses, Levidow, authorities allege, kept the FSA funds and split them with students. The amount of the fraud was about $109,323, according to the statement.
The indictment also alleges Levidow created false and fraudulent high school diplomas and GEDs for students that she provided to an auditor, “even though she knew that the students had either not attended the underlying high school, had not graduated or had not received a GED,” the release states.
Levidow faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count and up to five years in federal prison for the financial aid fraud count. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General investigated the case.