Sonoma County executive arrested for student loan debt relief scheme

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KGO) -- A Rohnert Park CEO is accused of operating a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme. He's expected to be in court Monday. Authorities arrested him at SFO Wednesday as he was headed to Cancun, Mexico.

The Ameritech Financial office was closed Friday with few signs the business had been operating in Rohnert Park.

According to a Criminal Complaint filed in US District Court, CEO Brandon Frere used various companies he controlled to operate a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme from 2014 to 2018.

Frere targeted recipients of federal student loans who were struggling to make payments.

According to court documents, Frere advertised student loan payment reduction and forgiveness and offered a document preparation service and financial education membership program.

He allegedly collected advance fees of 600 to 800 dollars per victim to submit documents to repayment plans. He also allegedly collected enrollment fees and membership fees.

In total, collecting more than 28 million dollars in four years.

Victims believed they would make lower monthly payments and that the balance of their loans would be forgiven but in actuality, Ameritech Financial was not making payments on their behalf.

In some cases, the victims found themselves further in student loan debt than when they began paying Ameritech Financial.

The US Attorney's Office says if Frere is convicted, any such losses undoubtedly would be part of the restitution/sentencing proceedings.

Frere could face 20 years in prison.
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