TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - An employee with the Florida Department of Children and Families has been arrested, accused of using her 82-year-old mother's identity to take out nearly $50,000 in student loans.
Tanya Vandenburg, 44, of Orlando was arrested on Tuesday and is facing several felony charges to include criminal use of personal identification, organized scheme to defraud, larceny from a person 65 years of age or older, and exploitation of the elderly.
Additionally, Vandenburg has been charged with four counts each of forgery, bank fraud, and uttering.
A Leon County detective began investigating the crimes when Vandenburg's mother reported her for fraudulent use of her personal information back in August 2017.
The victim told the detective that she was legally blind, so Vandenburg had access to all her accounts and handled finances on her behalf.
In 2011, the victim co-signed on a student loan for Vandenburg's education at Florida State and Tallahassee Community College. That loan was later paid off. However, the victim later began discovering several bills from Sallie Mae with her name on it.
According to probable cause documents, Vandenberg told her mother that there was a mistake on the bills and that she would "take care of it." But for several more years, Sallie Mae continued to send bills to their shared residence.
The victim told the detective she didn't pay the bills any attention, as Vandenberg handled the mail.
In 2015, the two got into a major fight and Vandenberg moved out. A month later, a bill from Sallie Mae addressed to the victim came to the home.
The victim called Sallie Mae and found out that several loans were opened in her name with her personal information and electronic signature.
An investigation revealed that Vandenberg had applied to 12 fraudulent loans, seven of which were approved.
From 2011 to 2014, Sallie Mae paid out $49,995 in loans. By time the victim discovered the fraudulent loans, the total owed had grown to $64,164.41 due to unpaid interest.
Detectives contacted Vandenberg through her employer, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and requested an interview in Tallahassee, but she never showed up.
A warrant was signed for her arrest on Jan. 18. She was taken into custody on Tuesday and got out on a $24,000 bond.
Detectives note that Vandenberg would have been facing additional criminal charges, but due to the statute of limitations, several charges were dropped.