S. Oregon woman charged for using dead spouse’s identity to get student aid

MEDFORD, Ore. – A Rogue Valley woman is facing federal charges for allegedly using her dead spouse’s identity to fraudulently obtain more than $36,000 in federal student aid.

The Department of Justice said between September 2017 and April 2019, Cynthia Pickering of Central Point submitted multiple federal student loan applications on behalf of her deceased spouse and used their identity to enroll at three different colleges and universities in Oregon.

The fake applications prompted Rogue Community College, Eastern Oregon University, and Western Oregon University to disperse $36,341 in federal student aid into Pickering’s personal checking account, the DOJ said.

Pickering allegedly attended online classes posing as her former spouse so the student aid would keep coming.

On November 15, 2022, Pickering — now 55 years old — was arrested at her home in Central Point. She was arraigned in federal court the next day and pleaded not guilty.

A jury trial is set to begin on January 24, 2023.

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