Last November, a federal judge ordered an asset freeze against a California company that the Federal Trade Commission accused of pretending to be working with the Education Department and promising student-loan debt relief that never materialized.

Six months later, the company, Arete Financial Group, got a lifeline from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Arete, which the FTC said helped cheat borrowers out of at least $43 million, received as much as $1 million to help keep its operations afloat, according…

Read More