(CBS) — The state of Illinois is trying to shut down companies that may be preying on people desperate to get rid of student loans, reports WBBM’s Cisco Cotto.

Ruth Varela is a single mom from Richton Park. She attended a one-year medical assistant program at Olympic College (now known as Everest College) in Merrionette Park.

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Three years after graduating she lost her job, while she still had $6,000 in student loan debt. She contacted a company called Student Loan Resolve in order to get help.

“They said that I would have an Obama pass, that this was a program that the president had put together for people like myself that were struggling,” Varela said.

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After paying the company nearly $800 she says she discovered the company had done nothing to help her. That’s when she filed a complaint.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urges anyone struggling with student loan debt not to respond to commercials offering a free quick-fix.

“You’re dealing with con artists,” Madigan said. “They are very persuasive and you are very desperate and they know how to play on your emotions.”

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Instead, Madigan says call her office first for advice. She is suing five companies in an effort to recover the money they took from students.