It’s a term that sounds like a form of street crime: “Snatch and grab.”
At Miami’s FastTrain College, that’s how some employees described the recruiting of students. Prosecutors say FastTrain’s recruiters, some of them former exotic dancers, would drive around poor neighborhoods trying to cajole the men on street corners or at bus stops into jumping into a car for a trip to the school.
“It’s called snatch and grab, man, snatch and grab, baby,” said Anthony Mincey, a former assistant admissions director, on a phone call that was secretly recorded by federal investigators.
Mincey and three other employees at the for-profit college, including former CEO Alejandro Amor, are facing criminal charges of conspiracy and theft of government money. Regardless of the outcome, the federal trial — scheduled to begin in two months — promises to be a primer on how to fraudulently obtain federal education grants and loans.
The alleged fraud at the heart of the FastTrain case — improperly enrolling students who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent — has been an issue at other Florida for-profit colleges. Billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded financial aid are at stake.
At some for-profit colleges, students are allowed to enroll simply by stating they completed high school — without providing any sort of proof. The student just signs an “attestation” form that they have a diploma.
“Anyone can walk in there and say ‘I graduated from Orlando High School in 1987 or whatever,’ and that’s good enough,” said Pat Elston, a former recruiter for Southern Technical College.