Adams stepfather accused of $262K student loan swindle
Amanda Murphy can't get a teaching job because prospective employers who run a credit check find she's more than $440,000 in debt, most of it from fraudulent private student loans her stepfather took out, a Butler County detective said.
“Nobody's touching her. She's not getting callbacks,” said Detective Scott Roskovski. “It's not fair to her. She didn't do anything wrong.”
Paul Dazen, 52, of Adams, owner of Innovative Cleaning Services, is awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges filed last week of theft, receiving stolen property and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. Neither he nor his attorney, David Shrager of Pittsburgh, returned messages.
Murphy, who is staying with family in the Youngstown area, approached county detectives in December 2010, saying banks were calling and demanding school loan payments. The Tribune-Review could not reach her for comment.
With late fees and interest, banks said she owed $444,662, Roskovski wrote in a criminal complaint supporting charges against Dazen.
A 2009 Geneva College graduate with a degree in education, Murphy said her mother, Pamela Dazen, and stepfather agreed to pay her student loans, valued at about $79,000. Paul Dazen borrowed to pay the tuition, but between March 2006 and July 2007 applied for loans beyond what was needed, according to the complaint. At her stepfather's request, Murphy signed loan paperwork, Roskovski wrote.
“Once the loan checks would come, Dazen would have Ms. Murphy sign the back when she was home,” Roskovski wrote. “Ms. Murphy never looked at the amounts; she just assumed it was for her school loans, and never dreamed her mother and stepfather would take advantage of her.”
Roskovski said that Dazen impersonated his stepdaughter in emails to lenders, saying that the money would be used for college expenses, including a computer.
Roskovski would not say whether Pamela Dazen would be charged.
Students need to be careful when co-signing loans, said Mike Reiber, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which services private bank loans but does not loan money.
“They need to understand what they're signing and what their responsibilities are as to signing a loan,” Reiber said. “We've handled all sorts of cases involving fraud, including where people apply for loans and never go to school.”
Dazen deposited checks into an account for his business and added Murphy to the business account as a signator, according to Roskovski, who said Dazen used the loan money for business and personal expenses.
Murphy told detectives she didn't know her name was on the business account or what Dazen did with the money.
Detectives accuse Dazen of depositing $262,504 in fraudulent loans and found no record that any of the money went toward Murphy's education at Geneva.
Roskovski said he tried to mediate the issue through Shrager and to have Dazen assume the debt, but “it just didn't work out.”
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.