On Monday, a Missouri woman pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally providing false information to the Social Security Administration. She pretended to be her daughter to get into school and date younger men.
To those who knew Lauren Hays, she seemed to be a typical undergraduate at Southwest Baptist University. She stressed about exams and how she would be able to repay her student loans. For a while, she even had a job at a city library.
And there were boyfriends.
The men she dated believed that she was 22 years old, and nobody questioned her age.
There was a reason for that. According to Detective Stetson Schwien, the woman used social media to hide her age. She used Snapchat and the age-defying filters to make her appear younger than her actual age.
She also dressed in age-appropriate clothes for a college student, learned the slang, and generally adopted the lifestyle.
The college student rented a room from a local couple, Avery and Wendy Parker. She told the couple that she was running away from a domestic abuse situation.
No one could have known that Lauren Hays was 43 year old Laura Oglesby. There is a Lauren Hays, she is 22 years old, and she is the estranged daughter of Oglesby.
Hatching the scheme
After Oglesby posed as her daughter and moved in with the Parkers in 2016, she started to pull the rest of the scheme together. She applied for a Social Security number and a Missouri driver's license in Hays' name.
With those tasks completed, Oglesby secured some financing for the school. She was approved for $9,400 in federal student loans, $5,920 in Pell Grants, and $1,863 in finance charges.
Shortly after being approved for the financial aid, Oglesby began working at the city library under her assumed identity.
Things seemed to be going her way until authorities in Arkansas contacted Mountain View police about Oglesby. They had reason to believe she stole her daughter's identity. While it seemed far-fetched, law enforcement agreed to talk with her to see what they could find.
Chief Jamie Perkins told reporters, "She was just running because she was in a domestic violence relationship, and she'd been running for years. We don't know her life story outside of what she told us, but we know what happened here."
After she was pulled over on a traffic violation, officers questioned her on the fraud and identity theft allegations. She denied stealing her daughter's identity at first. But under more intense questioning, she confessed to the scheme.
She was arrested and charged with multiple counts of fraud and identity theft. Eventually, the prosecution offered her a plea deal, which she took.
What lays ahead
Oglesby faces up to five years in prison. She also has to pay $17,521 in restitution to Southwestern Baptist University. There will also be a fine paid to her daughter, though that amount remains unknown at this time.
Parents stealing the identity of their children is far more common than what most people believe it is.
Statistics show that between April 1 and September 30, there were more than 270,000 allegations of Social Security fraud. Of those cases, more than half were categorized as impostors, the same crime that Oglesby committed.
As was the case with Oglesby, most of the impostor cases revolve around parents taking loans out in their children's name without the offspring's knowledge or consent.
The real Lauren Hays declined to comment on her mother's case. Oglesby and her lawyer have not shared a comment at press time.
Charlotte Marsch, a spokeswoman for Southwestern Baptist University, confirmed that Oglesby is a former student. She also released a statement that read: "We were saddened to learn about the situation and cooperated fully with the investigation. Our prayers are with all involved."
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