FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
INVESTIGATION INTO STUDENT LOAN SCHEME INITIATED BY SHERIFF’S INVESTIGATORS RESULTS IN 22 COUNT FEDERAL INDICTMENT: Jefferson County, Arkansas – May 11, 2015 – Gina Harper (51) of Sheridan, Arkansas was recently indicted on 22 counts of bank-fraud by Federal Prosecutors of the Eastern District of Arkansas, following an initial investigation by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) related to the forgery of student loan applications made by Harper.
The initial investigation by JCSO-CID Investigator, Sergeant Mickey Buffkin that identified Harper as the prime suspect revealed that between August 10, 2005 - July 2007, Harper while residing in Jefferson County, Arkansas had been the center of a major student loan scheme whereby Harper defrauded financial intuitions out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The scheme began when Harper asked Julie Weaver, a family friend to act as the co-signer for a $5,000.00 student loan for her daughter. Unbeknownst to Weaver, Harper had altered the amount of the loan to $15,000.00.
Armed with Weaver’s personal information, Harper used that information to further her crime by forging Weaver’s social security number and signature on at least 21 additional student loan applications in which Harper received checks from various financial institutions totaling more than $330,000.00 USC. The funds received were channeled through a checking account in Weaver’s name in which she also maintained for Pardoned Ministries, a singing group. The money was primarily used for purposes other than school. Approximately $109,000.00 USC were withdrawn through ATM transactions; however, Weaver never had a debit card.
Harper utilized the names of at least four other relatives to include Charles Harper, her husband; Cameron Harper, son; Misti Neisius, daughter; Christopher Neisius, son-in-law, who she listed as students on the loan applications along with herself. Interviews conducted of several witnesses revealed that they were unaware that Harper had applied for student loans in their names.
This case was a product of investigations by the Department of Justice along with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.