U.S. actress Felicity Huffman, left, and actress Lori Loughlin are among 50 people indicted in a nationwide U.S. university admissions scam. (Lisa O’Connor, Tommaso Boddi/AFP/Getty Images) The U.S. college cheating scam reveals fascinating details of how parents allegedly got their children into elite universities.
The case involves high-profile actresses, lawyers, CEOs, vintners, a fashion designer and more. What united them was an ability to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to allegedly secure spots for their children at their schools of choice.
Documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts explain how admissions consultant William (Rick) Singer opened a "side door" to top universities through the Key Worldwide Foundation. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges in the $25-million US scheme.
The scam involved bribing coaches and university administrators and arranging for falsified test scores on students’ entrance exams. At least 33 parents and nine coaches have been charged.
Emails, phone conversations and other evidence reveal the lengths parents allegedly went to. They included staging photos, faking athleticism and even lying about learning disabilities.
The allegations within the court documents have not yet been proven in court. Here are eight of the most intriguing tidbits. 1. Learning disabilities offer an edge
A key aspect of the scam was convincing authorities that some of the students needed extra time to write their exams because of learning disabilities.
The foundation allegedly worked with a psychologist who helped issue the right documentation. Once that was in place, Singer could get the students’ exam sites changed to a high school in Houston, Texas, or a private college in West Hollywood, Calif., where test administrators allegedly took bribes.
The result could either be a stand-in who would fly across the country and take the test for the student, or someone to change their answers once they were done, to boost their scores. 2. No athletic ability? No problem
Singer worked with some parents to stage photos of their children playing sports — everything from soccer to water polo — so they could be admitted to the schools as athletes.
Prosecutors allege actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California (USC) through its rowing crew in 2016 and 2017.
Neither girl was a rower. The couple allegedly sent in photos of both girls practising on an indoor rowing machine to help the cause, according to the court documents.
At a brief court appearance Wednesday, a judge allowed Loughlin to be released on $1 million bond and travel to the area around Vancouver to work, but otherwise imposed strict travel restrictions 3. Not your daughter in the photos? Also not a problem
According to the documents, a vintner in Napa Valley got his daughter into USC as a water polo recruit by paying tens of thousands of dollars and having her exam answers changed after she wrote it.
The plan also allegedly involved a "fabricated profile" of Agustin Huneeus Jr.’s daughter that identified her as a competitive water polo player — but it wasn’t her.
"You can’t tell it’s not her, but it’s athletic enough, and [I] put in all the honors and awards to match," one of the co-operating witnesses in the case allegedly told Huneeus in a wiretapped phone call. This image of a woman playing water polo was allegedly submitted with another student’s university application as part of the U.S. college cheating scam. (U.S. Department of Justice court submission) Another family allegedly ordered water polo gear through Amazon and worked with a graphic designer to create some natural-looking photos. They went back and forth with the co-operating witness […]
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