A New York nurse practitioner allegedly pocketed $1 million in a disability loan fraud scheme and could spend nearly 30 years in prison as a result.
Catherine Seemer, 42, of Elmsford, New York, faces charges of wire fraud, federal financial aid fraud, and aggravated identity theft, according to federal officials. The charges carry a possibility of up to 27 years in prison.
From June 2017 through March 2022, Seemer filed false disability claims for over 100 borrowers, resulting in the discharge of millions of dollars’ worth of student loans under the Federal Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program, federal officials claim. The program is designed to ease the financial burden of those suffering from permanent disabilities by relieving them of student loan obligations. Applicants for this program typically consist of military veterans that have suffered service-related physical or mental disabilities.
Federal authorities allege Seemer deceived each borrower into believing that they qualified for some form of loan relief. She exchanged her “services” for up to 10% to 20% of each borrower’s loan amount in order to expedite the discharge process. Officials say the scheme resulted in the wrongful discharge of more than $10.5 million in loans under disability-based relief programs, and that Seemer earned more than $1 million dollars as a result.
As each application is required to be certified by a licensed physician, Seemer used the identities, medical license numbers, and signatures of over a dozen doctors in order to falsify medical diagnoses and disability certifications. Not one of the doctors used for certification had ever met any of the borrowers. One of the doctors was used for up to 70 of the applicants, according to the federal complaint against Seemer.
Most of the borrowers believed they qualified because they were caring for an elderly or disabled relative. In one case, Seemer relieved a borrower that took care of a disabled relative of $100,000 in student loans by claiming they were bipolar.
One borrower became suspicious of the application process after learning about the disability requirement. Once brought to Seemer’s attention, she convinced them that certain words on the application, like “you” and “your” could refer to a family member, but “they don’t broadcast (that) to everyone” according to the complaint.
According to the New York Office of the Professions, Seemer obtained her registered professional nursing license in 2016 and it is valid through February 2025.
Frankie Rowland is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.
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