(WASHINGTON TIMES) — The Department of Education has dispatched “mystery shoppers” posing as prospective students to various colleges and universities across the country — an anti-fraud initiative that came months after another agency dumped a similar plan amid criticism that it amounted to spying.
The undercover operation to root out student-aid fraud went unannounced by federal education officials, but spending records show it began last summer not long after the Department of Health and Human Services scrapped its own mystery shopper program.
Education Department officials declined to discuss the mystery shopping program, but an $18,300 task order paid out on a contract in September provides more detail about the hiring.
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“The issuance of this task order will help the department identify misrepresentation and fraud … the department has instituted a mystery shopping program that will potentially expose deceptive practices and misrepresentations by higher education institutions,” the task order states.