DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Former Millikin students are the latest targets of a scam.
Thieves have set up a fake program saying the university will approve student loan forgiveness. Jey Owens, a grad student, almost fell victim to it.
"Graduation is nearing and I'm thinking about what the next steps are going to be," Owens said.
The total student loan debt in 2019 is high. More than 44 million borrowers collectively owe $1.5 trillion. Illinois is one of the top 10 states with the most student loan debt.
With so much money piled up to pay off, Jey Owens was excited to see an ad to her loans forgiven. She said she had to jump on the opportunity.
The sponsored ad on Facebook says the Millikin University has "given approval for full forgiveness to all former students". Below was a picture of a cashier's check of $11,000. That's when Owens said her intuition kicked in.
The ad was from "NavientSallle Relief" and "Sallie" was misspelled. Plus, the scammers were asking Owens for her personal information when she called.
"I said I didn't feel comfortable giving that information and they hung up on me," Owens said.
WAND News' Tristan Hardy reached out to the real Navient company and they confirmed it was scam. Their spokesperson said its a common scam they've noticed on Facebook. Macon County State's Attorney Jay Scott said student loan forgiveness is usually the bait to swindle young people.
"We always tell people if it sounds too good to be true than it probably is," Scott said.
"People are very creative nowadays," Owens added.
The soon-to-be college grad hopes her experience is an example to pay attention and not fall prey to scammers in the future.
It should be known the U.S. Department of Education doesn't have a 2019 student loan forgiveness program that would wipe away a person's debt.