Elderly Victim of Student Loan Fraud Wins

For close to a year now Fox 5 has stayed on the case of an elderly man saddled with repaying a student loan debt that he says isn't his.  Finally, the federal government has issued its final decision in this case.

Willie Chaney, in his mid-70s, has said every time he got a letter from the US Department of Education that he did not take out a student loan and go to college.  Nobody would listen to him. His wages were garnished. He came to the Fox 5 I-Team and we helped him push back.

"Four times," he said recalling how many times we've been to his small, tidy apartment.  

The US Department of Education has been convinced he left southwest Atlanta, traveled to Arizona, took college courses, like "Introduction to Cinema," then refused to repay his student loan.

"It's ridiculous. It really is. It's ridiculous," he said shaking his head.

The federal government was so convinced that he owed them money for an outstanding student loan that it docked his social security check. He appealed the decision. But by this summer, the Department of Education was threatening again to garnish Willie Chaney's check.

He's 74 years old, on a fixed income, and it scared him. He told us in July less money means less food on the table.

"It will be hard."

But he started to get a few breaks. Over the summer,  Rio Salado College confirmed with the Fox 5 I-Team that it has "substantiated Mr. Chaney's claim of identity theft and will write off the debt in question."

Finally, mid September more great news.  The US Department of Education sent this retired truck driver a letter.

It reads: The Default Resolution Group has removed you from responsibility of the two loans that were associated with your name.

"When I got that letter there I didn't believe I was reading it right."

And it gets better. Mr. Chaney beamed when he heard that in the next 60 to 90 days he'll be reimbursed $389.10 and the case will be dropped.