FAU employee accused of pretending to be student to collect class refunds

Denise Keaton forged academic transcripts from another school, police say

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

Police say Denise Keaton forged academic transcripts and pretended to be a student so that she could collect thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent class refund checks.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A 27-year-old Florida Atlantic University employee is accused of pretending to be a student and receiving almost $30,000 worth of fraudulent checks.

Denise Keaton was booked into the main Palm Beach County last Thursday on a charge of organized scheme to defraud. Keaton had been incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee.

According to an FAU police report, Keaton registered to take classes five times in June 2014 as "Elizebeth Denise Keaton" and paid $54,008.16 using fraudulent online checks.

The arrest report said Keaton, who worked at FAU's controller's office, canceled the classes and received refunds for three of the five classes in the amount of $29,883.44. 

FAU disbursed the funds before finding out that the account tied to the student was nonexistent and stopped payment on the remaining refunds.

Police said Keaton had forged academic transcripts from Colorado State University Pueblo.

According to the report, information from someone named "Mona Wilson" submitted to FAU's admissions office "contained similar information" submitted by Denise Keaton and Elizebeth Keaton. A Colorado State University Pueblo official provided a sworn statement that no transcripts for either Keaton or Wilson existed.

Police said the Social Security number provided for Wilson belonged to a Kansas woman who died in 2012, while the Social Security number for Elizebeth Keaton belonged to a 48-year-old Florida woman.

FAU later determined that Elizebeth Keaton and Denise Keaton had the same date of birth.

Keaton, who is representing herself, wrote a Palm Beach County judge in November asking to dismiss the felony charge, saying that she is currently serving a 46-month federal prison sentence. The motion was denied.

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