College Admissions Scandal Shakes Up Entire Admissions Board
Fifty individuals were busted on Tuesday, March 12, when news of a coast-to-coast college admissions scandal broke; the uncovered scheme allowed underqualified students to be fraudulently gain acceptance into top schools across the nation. 33 deep-pocketed and highly connected parents (many of whom are known to the public) have been accused of shelling out over $25 million from 2011 to 2018 to cheat their academically mediocre children into academic powerhouses such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, Wake Forest, and the University of Southern California (USC).
At the center of the scheme is William “Rick” Singer, a very well-connected college prep expert who has allegedly funneled the money paid to him through a sham nonprofit and also paid off numerous outlets to either whitewash SAT and ACT scores, or allow his applicants to falsely apply to the aforementioned schools as coveted sports recruits.
It has also been reported that some of these parents paid upwards of $6.5 million to Singer, but his running rate was noted at between $250,000 and $400,000. Singer was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the US and has pleaded guilty, while also making clear that he will cooperate with authorities.
Who Was Involved?
Furthermore, and as noted above, many of the parents charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud were, in fact, famous individuals. The group includes actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and also Willkie Farr & Gallagher co-chairman Gordon Caplan.
Jenna Greene of Litigation Daily gives a breakdown of Gordon Caplan’s story, where he, allegedly, sought help to raise his daughter’s ACT score; which was only a 22 at its highest, around the 63rd percentile. Mr. Caplan desired at least a 30 or 31, which would be around the 94th or 95th percentile, and was willing to pay $75,000 to do so.
Caplan’s scheme began when he and his daughter flew from New York to Los Angeles to meet with a psychologist that the witness knew in order to have her diagnosed with a learning disability, allowing her extra time to take the ACT. In fact, the test makers denied the daughter’s request for accommodation on two occasions and only agreed to accommodate after law enforcement, as part of the sting, asked them to allow it!
According to various court documents, Caplan warily stated that “…it was like third time was the charm. So everybody was telling us there’s no way, and then all of a sudden it comes in through [her school]. So, again, and—keep in mind I am a lawyer. So I’m sort of rules-oriented. Doing this with you, no way…any trouble comes out of this, nothing like that?”
After the first part of the plan was in process and the testing accommodation was granted, Caplan and his daughter returned to LA to take the test at a school where the witness allegedly bribed test administrators to let Caplan’s team supply the test proctor. “[T]his is, again, how it all works,” the witness explained. “She’ll take the test. It’ll be all her taking the test and then at the end of the test, it would be decided that we want to score, let’s say… a 33.” When Caplan’s daughter would leave, the proctor would then review and correct her answers and “ensure that he makes it so that her score ends up being between a 32 and 34, just depending on the curve for that particular test day. And normally he’s right on. And that is essentially how it would happen.”
There’s More, So Much More…
This was only one of the many routes the scheme took while used by the wealthy and notable defendants. As noted above, TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were also included among the many people charged with paying these bribes to get their children into school. Huffman starred in the ABC hit series “Desperate Housewives,” and Loughlin plays Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House.”
In Huffman’s case, she and her husband, TV and movie star William H. Macy, made a “purported charitable contribution” of $15,000 in order to finagle her oldest daughter into school, whereas Ms. Loughlin and her husband agreed to pay bribes in excess of $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team–even though the girls did not participate in the sport on any level, ever.
…And it gets worse for the Loughlin family! Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, now a sophomore at USC, has already made a career out of her situation in college, even though she has yet to earn a degree. Popular across the internet and social media, Olivia has over 1 million Instagram Followers, and over 2 million followers on YouTube where she vlogs about her experiences on and off campus.
These social media accounts allow us to see that this student is busy pursuing many passions other than crew, the foremost of which, is beauty. As early as her High School days, Ms. Giannulli debuted an official collaboration with Sephora, and her vlogs now feature numerous make-up tutorials, harping on the college-partying demographic. She has also received heavy praise (and now a ton of flack) for her college dorm decoration, as Instagram posts and YouTube videos reveal it as what appears to be a stage decoration for the new Amazon Student brand.
“They hooked me up with basically everything,” Olivia Jade says in her “College Dorm Room Tour” video which has garnered over 1 million views. She claims that video was not sponsored, however, she did post a “paid partnership” with the brand on Instagram and spoke with Teen Vogue about her dorm room décor.
On top of all of that, we will leave you with this: taken directly from one of her vlogs, Ms. Giannulli has been on record saying “[she doesn’t] know how much of school [she’s] going to attend, but [she does] want the experience of game days, partying…” before pausing briefly and concluding her thought by stating “I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
Applying to college is a cutthroat process for everybody, but imagine if a story such as this came out and you now have to simply live with knowing that this was the obstacle preventing you or your child from walking through the doors of your dream school; not the fact that you or your child should have done that extra afternoon of community service, shot those extra free-throws after practice, or stayed up an hour later studying SAT prep questions.
What Comes Next?
Well, that is exactly what it’s coming down to. These 50 people, now facing federal charges, who helped enable these children to lie, steal, and cheat their way into some of America’s finest academic institutions, may have very well stood directly in you or your kid’s way of their rightful university. Hardworking kids were made a mockery of, getting cast aside and denied entry to these well-deserved colleges due to the fact other parents had more money, and less integrity, than theirs.
The specific colleges and universities are simply the root of the problem here, too. These faulty college admissions that forced others down the ranks will hold weight for years to come. More prestigious schools, nine times out of ten, equate to higher ranking and higher paying jobs for recent graduates, causing this scam to continually sting those hard-working, honest students. Why in the world should an already incredibly fortunate child be able to overtake and make lesser of a young adult that has fought tooth and nail to get to where they currently stand?
To that end, if you or your child believe you have been affected by this College Admissions Scandal, we ask that you contact us immediately. We ask that you shoot us an email to discuss your many options at Outreach@ConsiderTheConsumer.com. Or, you may find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from all of you and righting these wrongs on your behalf.
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