Open Letter Environment “What Would You Do” for Presidential Candidates: 5 Fair Questions for Senator Bernie Sanders

Student loan debt crisis is a multi-trillion dollar problem that affects people in all the age groups, and both individual companies and organizations and the entire economy. The debt is also a manifestation of increasing cost and decreasing value of higher education that has been provided to traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates. If the value of higher education provided would have increased at a faster pace than the cost has, we would not have the current problems.

Here’s what I believe in: we both can and have to build a better future, but we cannot do so if we do not want to recognize the problems that we have today. Further, blaming game just for the sake of it is not constructive. However, auditing the problems and their causes is necessary in order to avoid making the same mistakes again.

In the U.S. we have a big difference between educators and traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates. In Washington’s power grid, educators are represented by American Federation of Teachers. As a group, traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates are not represented in a similar way. Thus, when we have a government that selectively works with certain parts of the existing power grid, the actual interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates may not be considered particularly important, and often enough may not even surface as areas that need to be addressed.

This is why it is very important to elect the next President of the United States who actually wants to serve in a meaningful way the interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates. The alternative will be continuation of problems that affect either directly or indirectly everybody.

As far as elections are concerned, there is an interesting flip side to this. While American Federation of Teachers is immensely powerful as an institution, depending on whom you count as an involved party, the total number of traditional students and adult learners exceeds the number of American Federation of Teachers members by at least 10 to 1. This ratio increases dramatically, when we add everybody who has been adversely affected by the decreasing value of higher education that has been provided.

In elections, as you know, one person has one vote.

  • The letter published below was delivered to:
  • -- The office of the Honorable Bernie Sanders, United States Senate, USPS Delivery Confirmation EK635224756US
  • -- Honorable Bernie Sanders, Burlington office, USPS Delivery Confirmation EK635224760US

Dear Senator Sanders,

I am contacting you both as a victim of involuntary servitude usage and as a voter. I will ask you as a presidential candidate 5 questions that arise from an ongoing real life situation that is described below. These questions are inter-related and address areas that affect me and millions of other people in this country. I will publish the relevant information online. So, of course, I do hope to receive a response that shows that you consider the areas addressed here to be important.

The inter-related questions asked below address the following areas:

  • Effective and efficient usage of government resources.
  • Offering constructive solutions for dealing with unethical behavior exhibited by government employees.
  • Effective and efficient student loan infrastructure that is used for delivering educational services.
  • Major government institution’s obligation to deliver value to those whom it is supposed to serve.
  • Moral obligation to assist people who are victims of broken promises made by a major government institution.

The involuntary servitude usage case that is presented below has been documented online for almost 4 years, and this makes it a convenient source of information. This case is also about an indifferent attitude toward problems caused and resources wasted by a major government institution. This indifferent attitude links this case to the problems that, based on publicly available information, affect adversely very many people in the United States.

I will contact presidential candidates with this information, to find out who is likely to belong into which of the following groups:

  • Group 1, The Real Leaders: The candidate proposes realistic and feasible solutions in areas that are related to being the President, even though solution providing may result in little immediate gain for the candidate.
  • Group 2, The Speech Makers: The candidate fails to propose realistic and feasible solutions or shows only superficial interest in areas that are related to being the President, but where solution providing may result in little immediate gain for the candidate.
  • Group 3, The Indifferent: When possible, the candidate avoids addressing areas that are related to being the President, but where solution providing may result in little immediate gain for the candidate.

Please note that this is an open letter that I will publish on the Internet, on StopExtortion.org so that it is accessible to the general public and to other institutions.

Further, please note that until the involuntary servitude usage related case addressed below is resolved, I need to keep records of the relevant correspondence. I am not able to record phone calls. Therefore, I can correspond in writing only, via regular mail.

5 Fair Questions

If you will become the next President of the United States, you will most likely inherit the case that is described below. More importantly, your beliefs and preferences will affect the lives of millions of people. Thus, I believe that it is fair to ask what your opinions are in the areas listed below. I will proceed from a specific case to related, but more general topics.

I live in the United States and am U.S. citizen. For close to 4 years I have been forced to work in involuntary servitude conditions.

The U.S. Department of Education has been demanding money from me for an alleged debt. Despite of my repeated requests, no validation has been offered, that any corresponding lending and borrowing transactions have actually taken place, and that I have ever received any of the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support.

This case has been going on for close to 4 years, remaining in the same debt validation status. No end in sight. The only progress that has been made, has been made because I have been working on this case.

In the U.S. there is no institution that resolves student loan related disputes in a completely impartial manner, taking equally into consideration the interests of both sides. So, I have contacted several institutions regarding this case.

I want to emphasize, that in this dispute resolution process I have not been seeking any kind of debt relief. I have been seeking, and continue to seek, relief from being forced to work endlessly and without compensation on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially and, under the circumstances, the U.S. Department of Education should handle completely impartially with its own resources, within a reasonable pre-determined period of time (for example, 3 months).

For the most part, I am addressing my situation here. However, if the government finds usage of involuntary servitude conditions and operating practices that rely on extortion-like demands acceptable in one case without just cause, then other people can be subjected to similar treatment.

This is one side of the problems.

Further, evidently, different involved parties have conducted their own investigations on this case. All of this has required money and other resources. Based on the gathered information it is clear that there are no loans in this case that the Department of Education owns. Accordingly, for Department of Education the debt validation process related losses and potential liabilities continue to increase, without any increase in possible revenue. Yet, after 4 years the Department of Education still refuses to close this case – because there is no incentive for them to find a suitable conclusion. Department of Education operations have been set up so that the employees do not have to think about the cost-effectiveness of what they do, or the actual value that they deliver. Taxpayers pay for the prolonged debt validation process and for the most part the Department of Education representatives can do what they want.

This is not a hypothetical case. This is a documented illustration from the last 4 years, showing how a major U.S. government institution actually works. Of course, you can verify the information provided here.

Question # 1: Do you agree, that this case represents ineffective and inefficient usage of government resources, that is, taxpayer money?

  • If you agree with the above statement, then what remedies to you propose that can realistically help to reduce ineffective and inefficient usage of government resources?
  • If you disagree with the above statement, then please describe briefly what makes this case an acceptable, or even effective and efficient usage of government resources in your opinion?

In this case, no lending and borrowing related documents exist, and no documents exist that would demonstrate that alleged loans were ever made and received, and, therefore, no lending and borrowing related contracts exist either. Accordingly, the Department of Education does not own any debt instruments or anything else of any value in this case. Creating internal computer records that are not related to any real life financial transactions does not create debt.

However, it has been documented and is evident beyond doubt, that the Department of Education is the owner of the following actions:

  • Unvalidated monetary demands that have been accompanied with threats
  • Usage of involuntary servitude
  • Possible accounting fraud
  • Monetary demands made based on fraudulent claims
  • Usage of extortionist techniques
  • Fraudulent computer record generating
  • Credit report entries made for the purpose of bullying
  • Refusal to honor Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request

The above are documented facts. Here’s a statement and a question that is related to an opinion.

Question # 2: Do you agree, that this case represents unethical behavior by government employees?

  • If you agree with the above statement, then what remedies do you propose that can realistically help people who are faced with unethical behavior by government employees?
  • If you disagree with the above statement, then please describe briefly what makes the actions that the government employees took and have been listed above ethical in your opinion?

In the process of working on this case, I also examine higher education attaining related problems and opportunities.

While on a personal side my case pertains to one individual, on a larger scale the very same indifference and ineffective and inefficient usage of government resources characterizes the student loan infrastructure that the U.S. Department of Education has been operating, and the decreasing value of higher education that has been provided to traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates.

The mounting student loan debt is one manifestation of it.

The misery, that the increasing cost versus decreasing economic value of higher education has caused to large number of people, is another manifestation of it.

Question # 3: Do you agree, that the student loan infrastructure that the U.S. Department of Education has been operating has become an ineffective and inefficient financial system?

  • If you agree with the above statement, then what solution do you propose that can realistically help to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the financial system that is used for delivering educational services?
  • If you disagree with the above statement, then please describe briefly what makes the currently used student loan infrastructure that the U.S. Department of Education has been operating an acceptable solution, or even effective and efficient solution in your opinion?

Further, it seems obvious that serving the interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates should be a very high priority for the U.S. Department of Education.

Yet, I cannot find any significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years, where there is solid proof that because of the U.S. Department of Education’s actions college students are better off than before, because they now receive an education that meets both their own and their employers needs better than previous alternatives did.

That is, I cannot find any significant policies or initiatives, where the people who represent the U.S. Department of Education can say something to the effect of “We made this happen and we have solid proof that because of this the current and future students receive an education that they can effectively use after graduation because it meets both the students and the employers needs better than previous alternatives did.”

Further, I cannot find any significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years, where there is solid proof that because of the U.S. Department of Education’s actions traditional students, adult learners and employers now receive more value for the money that is spent on education than they did before.

Question # 4: Do you agree, that the government should make cost-effective delivery of educational value to traditional students, adult learners and employers in changing socio-economic environment a high priority?

  • If you agree with the above statement, then what are the key elements of your plan that will allow your government to deliver actual educational value cost effectively, so that the budgeted expenses are realistic?
  • If you disagree with the above statement, then what are your reasons for making such a choice?

When the number of people who graduate from college increases, then that benefits the cabinet members, because the leaders of the government can point to such increase as their accomplishment.

Accordingly, for years the U.S. government has been marketing college education as a path toward improved financial and professional well-being. Yet, the available evidence shows that students who attain higher education now, are not better off than were students who graduated from college 8 or more years ago. Further, large number of people are in debt beyond their financial capabilities.

Based on the available information, most of the people who are in debt beyond their financial capabilities would not have borrowed as much money as student loans, if they would have had a more realistic picture of the circumstances that they will face after graduation.

Further, based on the available information, people who took out the student loans did so because they believed that to be necessary in order to attain the higher education that is their path toward improved financial and professional well-being.

At the same time, it is hard to find any significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years, where there is solid proof that because of U.S. Department of Education’s actions college students are better off than before, because they now receive an education that meets both their own and their employers needs better than previous alternatives did.

This situation does have the elements of bait-and-switch form of fraud. However, legal elements set aside, considering that the U.S. government has been marketing college education as a path toward improved financial and professional well-being, but the available data indicates that the graduating students are worse off now that students were 8 or more years ago, and there are no significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years that actually benefit traditional students, adult learners and employers, it is fair to say that traditional students, adult learners and employers are victims of broken promises made by the government.

Question # 5: Do you believe that there is a moral obligation for the next government to materially assist college graduates who are in debt beyond their financial means? By “materially assist” I mean substantive assistance, not just marginal assistance.

  • If you answer affirmatively, then how specifically will your government materially assist college graduates who are in debt beyond their financial means?
  • If you do not believe that there is a moral obligation for the government to materially assist college graduates who are in debt beyond their financial means, then what kind of reasoning is your relevant belief based on?

Next Steps

I need to find a feasible solution to the prolonged debt validation case, so that the Department of Education provides needed assurances that this case has been closed for good, and we can all move on. The section below, titled “Request for Formal Statement Ending the Monetary Demands,” provides more information on the assurances needed.

Further, I do believe that our educational infrastructure needs substantial resources. However, if we keep spending resources poorly and use inefficient and ineffective infrastructures, then any additional resources will be spent inefficiently and ineffectively as well. There is sufficient proof that these problems are real and must be solved.

It makes sense to me to turn my personal struggle with the U.S. Department of Education into something that can help to create value. I do so first and foremost as a software developer, working on long-term project that can benefit traditional students, adult learners and employers. This software development project is something that interests me.

I continue to work on the rest of this case against my will. The sections below contain relevant explanatory information that you can verify.

Accordingly, I will continue to work on this case for as long as I am forced to do so. If this case will be closed, and I believe that I can provide value by addressing the aspects that can benefit other people, I will do so.

So far I have addressed my own situation, and have published relevant information on one website, StopExtortionl.org.

Going forward, for as long as I am forced to work on this case, I will increasingly turn my struggle into a process that is focused on delivering improvements. I will also increase the scope of the relevant operations.

In addition to you, I will contact all the rest of the presidential candidates and other relevant institutions as well. I will publish the results on several websites, including the sites that get substantial traffic, together with results of secondary and primary research on why continuation of the current policies addressed here can be expected to be damaging.

The way the U.S. Department of Education and the student loan industry have been operated and managed over the last 7 years, has created lots of misery for very many people. This must be turned into an election issue, so that the voters can clearly identify, which candidates can offer constructive and realistic alternatives to the way the U.S. Department of Education and the student loan industry have been operated and managed, and which candidates are most likely simply making speeches and empty promises, or are likely to continue the current operating practices.

Together with this information, sufficiently thorough and comprehensive research results should be published, that point out the extent of damage that has been done, and how much damage will most likely be caused if usage of the current operating practices will continue.

All of this must be described in a manner that a wide audience of people can related to on personal level, both directly and indirectly.

Case Resolution Seeking Related Record Keeping So Far

The information that is provided below pertains to my case. I will provide this information to you, because this information is closely related to the questions I asked.

Together with this information I will provide a list of individuals and institutions that I have contacted so far regarding this case, and a summary of the responses received. I will update the relevant information in the consequent letters that I will send out regarding this case.

So far I have contacted the individuals and institutions listed below. All the letters mentioned here were sent by either via USPS certified mail, USPS Priority Mail or USPS Express Mail. StopExtortion.org contains additional, more detailed information on this.

U.S. Department of Education Business Partners

I have contacted the collection agencies that have worked on this case as the U.S. Department of Education business partners, numerous times starting 12/16/2011, disputed the amount demanded from me and requested debt validation. In response, I have not received any meaningful information whatsoever from any of the U.S. Department of Education business partners. Instead, I have received threats and other totally useless correspondence.

Further, the first debt collection company that was assigned to this case, FMS Services (aka Financial Management Systems, a private collection agency), hired an attorney, so that I would not contact them again. That is, this collection company first demanded $133,696.48 from me. After I repeatedly requested debt validation, and FMS Services apparently examined the merits of this case, FMS Services decided to invest their own money into hiring an attorney so that they can request from me not to be contacted again, and I can only contact their attorney instead.

FMS Services attorney, Mr. James K. Schultz of Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel, L.L.C. law firm, sent me a letter dated 09/13/12 and asked not to contact FMS Services debt collection company any more. After that, I had to contact Mr. Schultz on 09/17/12, 10/06/12 and on 10/26/12. (http://www.sessions-law.com/)

This link provides additional relevant information: http://www.stopextortion.org/profiles/blogs/open-letter-to-arne-dun...

Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education

I contacted the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education on 1/16/2012. I did not receive any response to this letter.

The Honorable Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts

I contacted The Honorable Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts at the time, on 04/14/2012. After speaking with Attorney General’s representative, I sent to Attorney General’s office additional information on 05/14/2012.

FMS Services, U.S. Department of Education business partner, who was contacted by Attorney General’s representative, refused to answer Massachusetts Attorney General representative’s questions. That also ended my communication with Attorney General’s representative, who was decidedly impartial, but very helpful.

Mr. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

I contacted the office of Mr. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, on 04/14/2012, 06/23/12, 08/28/12, 10/06/12, 11/26/12, 02/16/13, 04/27/13, 06/15/13, 07/29/13, 08/25/13, 10/14/13, 12/16/13, 02/18/14, 04/28/14, 06/23/14, 08/18/14, and on 12/15/14.

In the process I requested that the Department of Education validates that (1) I received the alleged student loans and that the relevant debt exists, and (2) that the Department of Education holds relevant valid legally binding promissory note debt instruments, and (3) that the Department of Education is the legal owner of the relevant alleged debt.

Throughout the close to 4 years long debt validation dispute, the Department of Education has repeatedly failed in all three areas. Instead, I received responses with both false and misleading statements, as is described in the sections below.

U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit

I had to submit Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the Department of Education several times, and I had to send out a complaint, before the request was processed. Twice the Department of Education FOIA Unit invented reasons for not processing the request. Each time I received a letter where I was requested to sign yet another statement. The letters also stated that “This letter concludes our response to your request.”

I also had to sign a statement under the penalty of perjury, declaring that all the information that I have provided about this case is true to the best of my knowledge.

Later, when I complained about this, the Department of Education FOIA Unit stated that they needed to verify my identity. However, I had already sent in copies of my driver’s license and Social Security Card to the Department of Education FOIA Unit, and I had signed the letters and the statements I made. Further, the FOIA request processing refusal letters did not ask for notarization of signature, or in any other commonly used identify verification methods.

I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the Department of Education first on 07/15/13. After several complaints that I sent to Mr. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, 8 months after submitting the first request I did receive a response to my FOIA request. The response, dated 03/11/14, states that my FOIA request “was forwarded to the appropriate office within the Department to search for documents that may be responsive to my request,” and the Office of Business Operations in FSA was “unable to locate any records responsive to my request.”

However, previously the Department of Education has stated that it has information on my receipt of grants. Thus, the FOIA response was in conflict with the information that the Department of Education had previously provided.

So, my correspondence with the Department of Education FOIA Unit continued – and, it is still ongoing. The section titled “Refusal to Honor Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request” below provides additional information on this.

In my FOIA request I specified the information that I was seeking. I have never received that information from the Department of Education FOIA Unit. Instead, I received duplicate copies of the letters that I had sent to the Department of Education, as “proof of indebtedness.”

At the time when I submitted the FOIA request, it must have been known to the people at the Department of Education FOIA Unit that no documents exist that would actually validate the monetary demands the Department of Education has been making.

Based on my experience I have to conclude, that the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit knowingly uses intimidating techniques and sends out irrelevant information in order to “prove” that a person owes money.

It is unlikely, that I am the only person who was subjected to such treatment. It is unknown, how many people over the years have been forced into making payments on financial obligations that are either partially or completely fictional and for which no documents exist, demonstrating that the financial obligations are valid.

Office of General Counsel, Office of Special Counsel

I contacted Office of General Counsel, Office of Special Counsel on 04/28/14, asking for help with identifying the steps that I can take to obtain specific information from the U.S. Department of Education in response to FOIA request that I submitted to the Department of Education.

I received a very helpful and constructive response, where I was recommended to contact Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), because OGIS is better suited to handle this FOIA dispute.

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

On 05/19/14 I contacted Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), National Archives and Records Administration.

I received a response, dated 12/12/2014, from Nikki Gramian, Acting Director at the time. The response was both helpful, thorough and very considerate. However, in essence the response emphasized why the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit’s actions could be considered legitimate – if all these explanations that the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit had provided were indeed true. Further, the response also made clear that there are limitations to what OGIS can do in order to resolve FOIA disputes.

Even though I disagreed with Ms. Gramian’s response, I appreciate the fact that she tried to provide a thoughtful explanation of why the people at the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit acted the way they did.

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

I contacted the Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General at the time, on 07/14/14. In my letter I addressed my concerns regarding the student loan dispute, and expressed hope that the Department of Justice can help to find a conclusion to what at the time was over two years long dispute between myself and the U.S. Department of Education.

I received a response, dated 11/01/2014, which stated that the Department of Justice cannot provide assistance with this case because it does not fall under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000c, et seq. However, in my letter I had asked for assistance in other areas, that are related to making unvalidated monetary demands and to unethical actions taken by the representatives of the Department of Education. Thus, the response ignored my actual request for assistance, and addressed an area that, according to the Department of Justice, they cannot assist with.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

I contacted American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on 09/15/14, and received a considerate response from Susan N. Herman, President of ACLU. In the response Ms. Herman explained why ACLU cannot assist in the addressed areas.

10 Individuals and Institutions

On 10/20/14 I contacted the 10 individuals and institutions listed below:

  • Chuck Young, Managing Director, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • The Honorable Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Harry Reid, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Hillary Clinton
  • The Honorable Julie Brill, Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
  • Katherine Siggerud, Managing Director, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • The Honorable Lamar Alexander, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Paul Ryan, United States Congress
  • The Honorable Ted Cruz, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Tom Harkin, United States Senate

I received responses and valuable information from some of the recipients.

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

As a follow-up, I contacted Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) again on 02/09/15. In my letter I pointed out what specifically invalidates the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit explanations which stated that they only tried to verify my identify by repeatedly refusing to process my FOIA request, and by demanding that I must sign a statement under the penalty of perjury, declaring that all the information that I have provided about this case is true to the best of my knowledge. I have not received any response to this letter.

Experian North America

On 03/16/2015 I contacted Experian North America, because previously I had found out that the Department of Education had reported the unvalidated, non-existent student loans to Experian credit bureau, as if these were actual loans in collection.

I started requesting debt validation in December of 2011. The Department of Education reported the fictional loans to a credit bureau from 06/2012 to 08/2013. These fictional loans were reported for this limited period of time to only one credit bureau, Experian.

The Department of Education reported the fictional loans to credit bureau while I was requesting debt validation, and without having any actual promissory notes or contracts or other type of documents that would demonstrate that the alleged lending and borrowing transactions actually ever took place.

Thus, I have to conclude that the Department of Education report these fictional records as actual loans to a credit bureau for the purpose of bullying.

Further, this shows, once again, how the Department of Education operates. People at the Department of Education do whatever they want, in order to force their version of reality on a former student.

Experian North America responded with an impartial but considerate letter and later removed the fictional loans from my credit history.

The section below, “Credit Report Entries Made For the Purpose of Bullying” contains more information on this.

The Honorable Loretta Lynch, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

I contacted The Honorable Loretta Lynch, Attorney General, on 05/04/2015, seeking help with ending a situation where I am being forced to work endlessly and without compensation on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially and, under the circumstances, the U.S. Department of Education should handle completely impartially with its own resources, within a reasonable pre-determined period of time (for example, 3 months). Further, I emphasized that I am not seeking any kind of debt relief.

So far I have not received any substantive response to this letter.

Default Resolution Group, U.S. Department of Education

In a letter dated 06/08/2015, the Department of Education Ombudsman Group representative asked me to contact the Default Resolution Group. I did so with a letter dated 06/22/2015.

I received a response stating that “Our position has not changed.”

The U.S. Department of Education has never been able to provide any coherent, constructive and meaningful response in this case. Thus, the appropriate translation of “Our position has not changed” is that the U.S. Department of Education employees state that “After over 3.5 years we still have not been able to get our act together and we don’t see any reason to change.”

Here is a link to my response: http://www.stopextortion.org/profiles/blogs/department-education-de...

Mr. Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

I contacted Mr. Richard Cordray, Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on 08/24/15 and received a response stating, that I had identified the U.S. Department of Education as the owner of my loan. Accordingly, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sent my information to the Department of Education and closed my file.

This, of course, is completely incorrect. Based on the available information, there are no loans.

Therefore, I contacted Mr. Richard Cordray, Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, again on 09/28/15. I have not received any response to that letter.

Based on the information available to me at the time of writing this letter, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s actual operating mission has little to do with protecting consumers. Instead, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau facilitates information between consumers and other companies and organizations. However, in the case of the U.S. Department of Education, the latter process may also help to diffuse some of the frustration that student loan borrowers feel. This, in turn, can help to show the current government in good light. Thus, the latter may be Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s actual mission.

If I receive any information that indicates that the above is incorrect, I will both change the relevant information in the subsequent letters that I will send to other presidential candidates, and will post relevant information on StopExtortion.org. I have no intent or interest in badmouthing any individual or organization involved. However, I am very interested in providing a true picture of the situation.

The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

I contacted The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, on 11/04/2015, seeking help with ending a situation where I am being forced to work endlessly and without compensation on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially and, under the circumstances, the U.S. Department of Education should handle completely impartially with its own resources, within a reasonable pre-determined period of time (for example, 3 months). Further, I emphasized that I am not seeking any kind of debt relief.

So far I have not received any response from the Department of Labor. I did receive another “Our position has not changed” letter from the Department of Education that referenced the letter sent to the Department of Labor. Such meaningless response is another indicator of indifference and lack of interest in finding a conclusion to this case.

My Situation in a Nutshell

As is stated elsewhere in this letter, the U.S. Department of Education has been demanding money from me for an alleged debt. Despite of my repeated requests, no validation has been offered, that any corresponding lending and borrowing transactions have actually taken place, and that I have ever received any of the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support.

This case has been going on for close to 4 years, remaining in the same debt validation status. No end in sight. The only progress that has been made, has been made because I have been working on this case.

In the U.S. there is no institution that resolves student loan related disputes in a completely impartial manner, taking equally into consideration the interests of both sides. So, I have been contacting, and will continue to contact, different individuals and institutions regarding this case.

I will emphasize again, that I am not seeking any kind of debt relief. I am seeking relief from being forced to work endlessly and without compensation on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially and, under the circumstances, the U.S. Department of Education should handle completely impartially with its own resources, within a reasonable pre-determined period of time (for example, 3 months).

I am forced to pursue this case until successful final resolution. However, it is not about winning or losing. As far as I am concerned, this case does not have any winners, but the U.S. Department of Education has already lost it many times, and will continue to lose it over and over again for as long as they refuse to find a suitable conclusion to it.

Further, this case has potentially countless beginnings, but far fewer conclusions. For example, contacting you is a new beginning. Similarly, other instances of contacting people and institutions have been, and will be, beginnings.

I have prevailed every step of the way, and the U.S. Department of Education has lost every step of the way. The reason is simple – what the U.S. Department of Education does is clearly wrong and unethical, and may also be illegal.

Of course, one might wonder, how many more times, and in how many more ways the U.S. Department of Education wants to lose, before the decision makers in that institution finally understand, that any further continuation of this case is both meaningless and a waste of taxpayer money, time and other resources.

Then again, the decision makers in the U.S. Department of Education may simply not care about any of it. That makes it my job to make them care.

Case Background

I will explain below the current situation further.

I came to the U.S. in 1989 as a political refugee from the Soviet Union. I attended state owned Rhode Island College between 1990 and 1996 as an honors student. According to publicly accessible sources the in-state cost of tuition to attend the state owned Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 ranged from $1,703 to $2,838 a year.

I received Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, Pell Grant and work-study financial aid that covered the cost of my attending Rhode Island College.

As far as I know, as a student I did not qualify for bank loans because I was in the U.S. on a temporary visa when I first attended college, and then on Green Card until graduation, without any credit history, co-signer or collateral. Further, initially I did not have any work experience and work history either. While I was a student my income was extremely low and did not support borrowing from a bank tens of thousands of dollars.

However, the Department of Education insists that I also borrowed $46,354.00 as principal from Fleet National Bank, to which the Department of Education later added interest and fees, so that at this point the Department of Education is demanding from me over $135,000.00.

The amount of money that the Department of Education claims that I borrowed is several times higher than I possibly could have received, even if I would have borrowed money. As a student, I did not live on campus. The Department of Education is unable to explain, how the $46,354.00 supposedly was used or where did it go.

I have been requesting debt validation from the Department of Education from December of 2011, when I received a student loan collection letter.

None of the demands have been validated. There is no validation that I ever received any of the alleged loans either directly, or indirectly, as tuition support. Similarly, there is no validation that any legally binding documents exist.

The over three years long dispute with the Department of Education has so far resulted in identifying the following:

  • Initially, the Department of Education insisted that a breach of contract had occurred. However, a legally enforceable contract must be consummated by consideration which, in this case, would be my receiving student loans as the promisor from Fleet National Bank as the promisee. There is no contract that involves my receipt of student loans as the promisor from Fleet National Bank as the promisee. Thus, there is no contract involved here that has been breached.
  • As a student, I signed and submitted financial aid applications and received financial aid based on these applications. These financial aid applications do contain information on my receipt of financial aid other than loans.
  • Financial aid applications and legally binding promissory notes are different documents. However, the Department of Education is trying to serve these financial aid applications as legally binding promissory notes, even though these financial aid applications (a) are not in accordance with the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requirements for legally binding promissory notes, (b) do not contain the information that legally binding promissory notes must contain, and (c) do not contain information on my receipt of the alleged bank loans.
  • Thus, there are no legally binding promissory note debt instruments that I signed as a student at Rhode Island College that involved me as the promisor and Fleet National Bank as the promisee.
  • Accordingly, the Department of Education does not hold any valid legally binding promissory note debt instruments that involve me as the promisor and Fleet National Bank as the promisee.
  • No documents have been furnished that demonstrate existence of debt and debt obligations. Accordingly, the Department of Education does not own a nonexistent debt that involves me as the promisor and Fleet National Bank as the promisee.

The Department of Education representative does not state that I received student loans and that I must pay the Department of Education because I received student loans. Instead, the Department of Education representative states that I must pay them because I signed the financial aid applications, which the Department of Education also calls promissory notes. However, financial aid applications and promissory notes are different documents.

These less than a page long financial aid applications contain only one place for signature, in the middle of the page, and that is where I signed them.

Further, there are requirements set for legally binding promissory notes, and the financial aid applications that I signed do not qualify as legally binding promissory notes.

In addition, the bottom halves of the same less than a page long financial aid applications contain information that indicates, that the applications were processed for financial aid other than loans – and I did receive such financial aid.

When I started the debt validation process, I did not know any of this. It has taken me a lot of work and time to find out the relevant details and information. This entire process has been very difficult, causing me a lot of mental suffering.

Based on my case I have to conclude that the Department of Education employees purposefully want to maintain their stronghold, hoping to eventually force me into paying them anyway, because they have a never ending ability to make monetary demands that they do not have to actually validate. Thus, they knowingly cause endless suffering.

There is nothing accidental about this. Based on the available evidence, in this case the Department of Education employees cause this suffering purposefully and deliberately. This must be stopped.

Does This Case Qualify as Involuntary Servitude?

This case is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially. Otherwise, this case would not exist.

There is no debt that the U.S. Department of Education is collecting money on. Instead, the information and the evidence that have been gathered overwhelmingly indicate that the U.S. Department of Education has been making monetary demands based on bad record keeping, which it tries to cover up. The relevant information and evidence have been gathered due to my work and efforts.

For over 3.5 years I have been forced to work on this U.S. Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case, without compensation, against my will. If I would not have worked on this case, I would be rendered into financial servitude, having to pay a debt that does not exist, and interest and penalties on top of a nonexistent debt.

Thus, I have to work on this case, whether or not I want to do so, because the alternative is even worse.

Further, I do not have any security and safety in this case. Even though the Department of Education has not furnished requested validation that the alleged debt actually exists, based on their statements, they can force me to pay them, for example, through garnishing wages.

Based on the above, I conclude that I have been working, and continue to work, in involuntary servitude conditions.

For all practical purposes, in the U.S., other than courts, there is no independent institution that would handle such cases completely impartially and would also have the authority to advise the U.S. Department of Education, or to take corrective action, if wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Education has occurred.

However, that does not mean that the U.S. Department of Education employees have the legal right to render individuals into involuntary servitude by using the special powers granted to them, as they have done in my case.

Request for Formal Statement Ending the Monetary Demands

I have requested that the Department of Education validates that (1) I received the alleged student loans and that the relevant debt exists, and (2) that the Department of Education holds relevant valid legally binding promissory note debt instruments, and (3) that the Department of Education is the legal owner of the relevant alleged debt.

Throughout the over 3.5 years long debt validation dispute, the Department of Education has failed in all three areas.

The Department of Education is not exempt from debt validation, and the Department of Education does not have the legal right to force a past student loan applicant to make payments on an unvalidated debt.

Accordingly, I request that the Department of Education ceases and desists making any further monetary demands and states in writing that the Department of Education will not under any circumstances take any actions and will not make any further demands regarding the specific previously claimed alleged debt, and will not authorize any individual, company, organization or institution to take any actions or to make any kinds of further demands regarding the specific previously claimed alleged debt.

The Department of Education must provide such a specific statement, signed by a duly authorized representative.

People at the Department of Education live in their own world, where they believe that they can pursue monetary demands even if they do not have proof that the underlying alleged lending and borrowing transactions actually happened. Their having “internal records” is sufficient for them. However, they can create internal records again at any point in time, entering, once again, my latest information in their computer system, as they did a few years ago – ironically, together with a bank’s name (Bank of America) that did not even have any commercial presence in New England at the time I went to college. Similarly, they can create or change any other internal regulations, and, once again, start demanding money from me. If this sounds crazy, then, with all due respect, it’s not any more crazy than is the current case that has been going on for the last 4 years.

Thus, a statement specifying the above would provide necessary and sufficient assurances that the demands will not resurface at will. Without such assurances I am forced to pursue this case until I receive the necessary assurances that this case has been closed for good.

Foundation for the Requests

In accordance with case law, (citing)

  • as assignees, the Guaranty Agencies and other secondary holders step into the shoes of the lender from whom they have taken the promissory notes and are subject to any defenses that the student/obligee may assert against the assignor/lender. See Jackson v. Culinary School of Washington, 788 F. Supp. 1233, 1248 n.9 (D.D.C. 1992), reversed on other grounds, 27 F.2d 573 (D.C. Cir. 1994), vacated, 515 U.S. 1139, on reconsideration, 59 F.3d 354 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

Please note, that the above citation is applicable to the time period when the alleged loans were made.

Accordingly, when the Department of Education becomes the holder of the promissory notes, it is not the original lender, nor the school involved, but the Department of Education that has to answer for actions related to originating and collecting the debt, as well as other potentially fraudulent aspects of an individual student loan cases.

In this case, legally binding promissory notes and debt either exist, or they do not exist.

If the Department of Education maintains a claim that it is the legal owner of legally binding promissory notes, I expect the Department of Education to furnish copies of the original legally binding promissory notes that are in accordance with Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requirements for legally binding promissory notes. In that case, the Department of Education is also in the shoes of the lender. As lender, I expect the Department of Education to furnish proof, that the lending and borrowing transactions actually occurred and the corresponding debt obligations actually exist.

If the legally binding promissory notes do not exist, and there is no conclusive proof that the lending and borrowing transactions occurred, I expect the Department of Education to issue a statement clearly stating that it will end the unvalidated monetary demands.

Compensation

As is stated above, for over 3.5. years I have been forced to work on Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case, without compensation, against my will. I have been invoicing the Department of Education along the way. For the sake of the relevant information I am enclosing a copy of the latest invoice.

Please note, that the invoices that I have submitted to the Department of Education so far list only compensation for the amount of time that has been robbed from me, because I have been forced to work on the Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case. These invoices do not list compensation for any other type of harm caused and for the opportunities that I have had to forgo because I have had to invest my time into working on this case.

I will relinquish requests for compensation that is listed in the enclosed invoice, if the Department of Education in return officially declares that it will relinquish usage of the following operating practices:

  • Through usage of threats forcing a former student to work on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the Department of Education financially.
  • Making monetary demands without having, and on request furnishing, validating proof that the corresponding lending and borrowing transactions have actually occurred.
  • Stating, that the Department of Education has in its possession original legally binding promissory notes, while in reality such documents do not exist.
  • Generating financial documents after a student graduates from college, claiming that these are copies of the original financial documents that were generated while the student attended college or university.
  • Entering records into a former student’s credit history after the student graduates from college or university without having, and on request furnishing, conclusive proof that the former student did receive the alleged money as loans either directly, or indirectly, as tuition support.
  • It is especially devious to enter records of unvalidated and non-existent loans into a former student’s credit history after the student graduates from college in response to student’s debt validation requests and while the former student is requesting debt validation, as was done in my case.

All of the above applies to my case. Thus, my case provides proof that the Department of Education does indeed use these operating practices. (As a relevant note I will add, that publishing this case on the Internet both provides information on the areas addressed here, and helps to increase awareness of these operating practices and of the importance of abolishing them.)

If we can put in place assurances, that nobody else has to go through the same ordeal in similar circumstances, we have made progress in ways that can actually help people. That would provide meaning to my several years long struggle.

Further, if we can resolve this dispute so, that the Department of Education agrees to relinquish usage of the operating practices listed above, there is an additional very important benefit to this. We can emphasize, that it is possible to resolve even complex disputes in a non-violent manner, without expensive court cases that financially are out of reach for most people.

I believe that we need more such examples from different areas of life, showing also clear pathways for non-violent and effective dispute resolution. Providing such examples is a process, not an event, and every little bit can help.

If the Department of Education refuses to relinquish usage of the operating practices listed above, naturally, a question arises: why? Why would the Department of Education still need to continue to operate in this manner?

Accounting Fraud Aspects of This Case

Publicly accessible sources state that the in-state cost of tuition to attend Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 ranged from $1,703 to $2,838 a year.

The Department of Education insists, that as a student I borrowed $46,354.00 as principal, in addition to Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, work-study financial aid and Pell Grant that I received. Please note, that I did not live on campus.

I graduated from college in 1996. According to the written correspondence received from the Department of Education, the Department of Education established its records in 2008. Based on the available evidence, the Department of Education established its records without existence of any documents that demonstrate that the underlying lending and borrowing transactions ever happened. Similarly, the Department of Education established its records without existence of valid legally binding promissory notes.

Out of the total amount of financial aid that I applied for as a student, the Department of Education picked approximately 80% as “loans,” apparently disregarding Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, work-study financial aid and Pell Grant that I received. It is unknown, how that loan creating process took place. The available evidence indicates that this process took place after I graduated and without evidence that the relevant amounts are accurate – or even plausible.

Accordingly, based on my documented experience, the U.S. Department of Education creates and maintains assets without having the necessary corresponding debt instruments that meet the commonly accepted criteria, such as Uniform Commercial Code that applies to promissory notes.

As far as I know, such fictional balance sheet entry creating and maintaining without having the actual corresponding assets is illegal. Over the last decades, most of the accounting scandals (Enron, WorldCom, Waste Management, etc.) have been related to fictional assets and/or revenue creating. The same seems to apply to the U.S. Department of Education operations.

My experience with the U.S. Department of Education has been documented. While I am just one individual, I believe that this case has much broader ramifications. Many investors invest their money in the U.S. government bonds, so, clarity in this area is necessary. As part of a full relevant disclosure, these investors deserve to know if certain parts of the U.S. government have been creating assets without having the necessary corresponding debt instruments.

Accordingly, I do believe that thorough auditing of the U.S. Department of Education by an impartial entity can reveal, in how many instances assets have been created without the corresponding financial instruments, such as legally binding promissory note and a legally binding contract between an alleged borrower and lender.

Further, based on my personal experience I know, that in order to turn the fictional revenue streams and assets into real ones, the U.S. Department of Education uses extortion-like techniques, such as threats, false statements, document fabrication, intimidation and bullying.

Even when it is clear, that the U.S. Department of Education is unable to verify that the debt and corresponding debt obligations actually exist, the U.S. Department of Education refuses to end its unvalidated monetary demands and to close the case as requested. Behind this refusal may also be the need to keep in the books the fictional assets.

Briefly, the U.S. Department of Education operates by using the powers granted to it to demand money from an individual, while disregarding the fact that the corresponding debt and debt obligations do not exist.

My Objectives and Objectivity and Subjectivity of this Case

This dispute with the U.S. Department of Education overlaps several areas: legal, financial, human rights and civil rights. I have been contacting, and will continue to contact, individuals and institutions from all of these areas, presenting evidence of wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Education, until the U.S. Department of Education finally ends the unvalidated demands and issues a statement that I have been requesting.

From personal perspective I will say that I do believe that justice exists in the United States of America. Thus, I believe that eventually I will prevail. To me, these statements are highly meaningful.

All the information that I present here is inevitably presented from my point of view. However, I also try to present it as accurately and objectively as I can. While my opinion of the U.S. Department of Education is not high, the information presented here is above all based on the facts that are available to me.

If the U.S. Department of Education would work the same way, presenting the facts about the alleged debt and debt obligations, we would not have this dispute. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education’s case is primarily based on opinions and generalizations, and statements like the following: “Schools frequently apply the funds from student loans to enrollment expenses, such as tuition, fees and other school charges. Students frequently do not directly receive the funds.” From this I am supposed to conclude, that the same applies to my case – and this is also supposed to be the validating proof, that my tuition and fees were paid with student loans, and not with other types of financial aid that I know I received.

Below is additional information on this case background.

Monetary Demands Made Based on Fraudulent Claims

The Department of Education claimed, that it has my original promissory notes in its possession. Later it turned out that such documents simply do not exist.

Similarly, the Department of Education has stated that in 1997 Fleet Bank, a private lender, submitted insurance claims to a guaranty agency, and the guaranty agency made monetary payments to Fleet Bank.

However, the only records that the Department of Education is able to furnish as proof of these transactions are internal documents – for all practical purposes scratch papers – that any employee could have filled in at any point in time. If these transactions did actually occur, then why aren’t there any documents showing that Fleet Bank submitted claims, and that guaranty agency made payments to Fleet Bank? If these transactions actually took place, then why did the guaranty agency chose to retain for years irrelevant scratch paper, instead of records of actual transactions?

Extortionist Techniques Used by the Department of Education

The Department of Education demands that I must prove that I did not receive bank loans – even though the demands have not been validated. Thus, I am asked to prove that I did not receive nonexistent loans.

Because of the special powers granted to the Department of Education, the Department of Education can go on and on with these circular demands.

The Department of Education operates under a business model, where it uses the powers granted to this institution and keeps making unvalidated demands and pressuring the former student to make payments on unvalidated debt, even though, based on the available information, the debt does not exist.

Fraudulent Computer Record Generating

I graduated from college in 1996. In 2012 the Department of Education sent me what they claimed to be copies of my original Notice of Loan Guarantee and Disclosure Statements. However, it turned out that these statements were generated in 2012 by entering my current information into a computer system in 2012 – more than 15 years after I graduated from college.

Credit Report Entries Made For the Purpose of Bullying

In June of 2014 I found out that the Department of Education had reported the unvalidated, non-existent student loans to Experian credit bureau, as if these were actual loans in collection.

To put things into perspective, I started requesting debt validation in December of 2011 after I had received a student loan collection letter. At the time of my writing this letter, this debt validation dispute is ongoing, with no end in sight. Department of Education’s reporting of the fictional loans to a credit bureau started in 06/2012 and ended in 08/2013.

At the time when the Department of Education chose to report these fictional records as actual loans to a credit bureau, it must have been clear to the Department of Education, that there are no documents showing that I ever received any of these alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support. Similarly, it must have been clear to the Department of Education, that there are no actual promissory notes or contracts involved here.

Because the loans do not exist, the Department of Education is not collecting any monthly revenue on them either.

Thus, I have to conclude that the reason that the Department of Education chose to report these fictional records as actual loans to a credit bureau was bullying. People at the Department of Education wanted to show how powerful they are and what I can do to me.

These fraudulently reported records prevented me from obtaining credit, from renting an apartment, and from seeking employment. Thus, these actions caused me harm.

On 06/23/14 I contacted the Department of Education and requested removal of these records. The Department of Education responded, refusing to remove the fraudulently reported records.

On 03/16/15 I contacted Experian North America credit bureau, which removed these records from my credit report.

Refusal to Honor Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

Following the instructions that I received from Naomi Randolph, Special Assistant, Operations Services, Federal Student Aid, I submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education first on 07/15/13. I received a response stating that I must sign a specific statement. I did so. Then I received yet another request to sign yet another statement, where I had to declare under penalty of perjury that the information that I have provided about this case is true to the best of my knowledge. I did sign that specific statement as well.

After my third FOIA request, I received the United States Department of Education FOIA REQUEST ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, which states that the date the request was received was August 20, 2013. The FOIA tracking number of my request is 13-00074-PA

The Department of Education has not explained what legal right did the Department of Education have to refuse to process my FOIA request until I had singed a statement under penalty of perjury.

I did receive a response to my FOIA request. The response, dated 03/11/14, states that my FOIA request “was forwarded to the appropriate office within the Department to search for documents that may be responsive to my request,” and the Office of Business Operations in FSA was “unable to locate any records responsive to my request.”

However, previously the Department of Education has stated that it has information on my receipt of grants. Thus, the FOIA response is in conflict with the information that the Department of Education has previously provided.

Accordingly, on 05/19/14 I contacted Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), National Archives and Records Administration. I received a response, dated 12/12/14, and requested clarification in a letter dated 02/09/15.

Consequently I also received a response form the Department of Education FOIA Unit, dated 03/09/2014, even though the letter was actually sent to me in 2015. In that letter the Department of Education FOIA Unit representative claimed, that they sent me 386 pages of information that is responsive to my FOIA request. In reality, 84% or 324 pages out of the total of 386 pages of the material that I received, were copies of my letters to the U.S. Department of Education, requesting validation of the alleged debt. Further, this material contained duplicated copies of my letters – apparently, in an attempt to generate more volume of the “legitimate support material,” the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit sent me 2 copies of my debt validation request letters to the Department of Education.

The rest of the material was copies of computer screen snapshots and other internal records that apparently were generated after I graduated from college. I did not receive any of the requested information that would demonstrate, that the alleged lending and borrowing transactions actually took place, and that I received any of the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support while I actually attended college.

On 05/04/2015 I responded, requesting information on work-study financial aid. For some reason, the Department of Education FOIA Unit has not sent me information in the latter area.

At the time of writing this letter, I am waiting for the relevant information from the Department of Education FOIA Unit.

So, the case continues. However, I do believe that it is in everybody’s interest to find a solution to this dispute.

Thomas Eklund

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