Uncovered Fraud Scheme Promising U.S. Scholarships in Tirana: Two High School Officials Under Investigation

 A fraudulent scheme named “Let’s Talk Together About US24,” which falsely claimed to offer scholarships for Albanian students to study at American universities, has been exposed in Tirana. The scheme, which targeted high school students, was allegedly orchestrated by Klotilda Jaupi, the principal of the prestigious "Qemal Stafa" high school, and Valentina Lamaj, an English teacher at the same institution.

Valentina Lamaj and Klotilda Jaupi, in the background "Qemal Stafa" high school, montage
 Valentina Lamaj and Klotilda Jaupi, in the background "Qemal Stafa" high school, source: Dosja.al
Jaupi and Lamaj are reportedly under investigation for their involvement in this elaborate scheme. Authorities allege that they collaborated with other individuals to create a sophisticated fraud, falsifying documents to offer fake scholarship opportunities for students aspiring to study in the United States. The scheme promised students and their families that they could receive substantial financial aid and secure places in reputable American universities.

The alarm was raised by the American Embassy in Tirana, which issued an urgent statement disassociating itself from the project. The embassy clarified that "Let’s Talk Together About US24" had no affiliation with the embassy or the U.S. Department of Education. The embassy's statement emphasized the importance of verifying the legitimacy of such programs through official channels and warned students and parents to be cautious of similar fraudulent offers.

The investigation revealed that Jaupi and Lamaj, leveraging their positions of trust and authority at the high school, were able to convince numerous students and parents of the scheme's legitimacy. The fraudulent program not only promised scholarships but also involved the collection of various fees purportedly for application processing and administrative purposes.

Parents and students who were affected by the scheme expressed their shock and disappointment. Many had hoped that these scholarships would provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for higher education in the United States. Instead, they found themselves entangled in a web of deceit, with financial and emotional ramifications.

The Ministry of Education in Albania has also issued a statement condemning the fraudulent activities and assuring the public that measures will be taken to prevent such incidents in the future. They emphasized the importance of due diligence and verification of scholarship programs through official and recognized sources.

This scandal has brought to light the vulnerabilities within the educational system regarding fraudulent schemes and the exploitation of students' aspirations. It serves as a cautionary tale for students, parents, and educational institutions to remain vigilant and to rigorously verify the authenticity of scholarship programs and educational opportunities.

As the investigation continues, the educational community in Tirana and across Albania is left to grapple with the repercussions of this breach of trust. The incident underscores the need for greater oversight and transparency in the administration of educational programs and scholarships to protect students and restore confidence in the system.
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