Columbus Tutor Charged In Connection With Fraud Scheme

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The founder of a Columbus tutoring business is being charged in connection with an alleged fraud scheme.

Officials said that Askir Ali, 45, founder of a group called WAISS Network Technologies, was charged Wednesday with two counts of making false statements and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Court documents indicate that Ali allegedly submitted fraudulent bills to Columbus City Schools and the Department of Education's Supplemental Education Services (SES) Program, and forged signatures of students who had not been tutored.

"By stealing from the SES Program, these 'phantom tutors' are stealing opportunities from the children who need them most," said Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.

Ali and WAISS Network Technologies signed their first contract with CCS in 2007.

In 2010, CCS sent a letter to WAISS telling the organization that they were in breach of contract and would not be allowed to continue its contract with the district.

A special audit of the Columbus City School District began in June 2011 after a request was made by Superintendent Gene Harris.  

In a written statement released on Wednesday, Columbus Schools officials said that they took swift action in making officials aware of the district's concerns.

"Columbus City Schools aggressively monitored SES program providers and had notified the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in September of 2010 of concerns with WAISS due to non-payment of the company's tutors," school officials said in a release.

Parents told 10TV they were outraged as taxpayers, but more as parents.

"They're supposed to be in tutoring, and you're robbing us, because we don't even have money. The economy is hard right now, we're trying to make it," said Latonya Mason, "So, for him to be getting money and not even tutoring our kids, it doesn't make any sense."

The Ali case is the first prosecution to result from the Auditor of State's special audit, which is ongoing.

Ali appeared before a judge on Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance.

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