GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (CBS) — Forty-four students at the College of DuPage, and two alleged ringleaders, are accused in a financial aid scam.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Terry Keshner reports, the students are accused of enrolling in just enough online classes to qualify for financial aid, only to drop out and get refund checks.

Most of the money from those checks went to the alleged ringleaders – one in Illinois, the other out of state – who promised to give a cut to the students who willingly gave them personal information, the Daily Herald reported.

The Daily Herald reports College of DuPage officials say $354,000 were lost to fraud in the past four semesters.

The U.S. Department of Education tells the newspaper such scams are increasing in frequency, possibly in part because colleges are not required to verify the identities of online students.

The College of DuPage is now taking a closer look at online students who receive financial aid.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Terry Keshner reports