FBI Uncovers Largest College Admissions Cheating Scandal Ever

Dozens of indictments in enormous college admissions cheating scandal.
Biggest college admissions cheating scandal in history revealed today.

Lots of parents help their kids get into college. We look at schools with them, we remind them to sign up for the ACT. We read over their essays pointing out problems with their punctuation and grammar. Some parents even go so far as to hire coaches and tutors to help facilitate the process.

But some parents, its seems, have gone further, much much further.

A national cheating scandal, involving both the ACT and SAT, was made public today in a 46-page criminal complaint from the FBI in what is being called the largest college admission scandal ever. 

The criminal complaint alleges that starting in 2011 at least 50 parents (“defendants”) used fraudulent means to facilitate their children’s admissions to high profile colleges including Yale, Stanford and others. The fraud was perpetrated in several different ways. 

The defendants bribed others to either allow a third party to take a standardized college entrance exam in lieu of their student, or they provided the student with answers during the exam or they corrected the exam after its administration. This all resulted in the student’s obtaining a much higher score than they would have gotten otherwise.

In some cases, defendants bribed college coaches to the tune of millions of dollars to designate their child as athlete, regardless of whether the student even played the sport. As a designated athlete, the bar for admission in term of grades and scores is lowered so these fictitious athlete designations allowed non-athletes to get into a university with lower grades and test scores. 

Sometimes third parties would be paid to take classes for the defendant’s children with the understanding that their grade would be substituted for the child’s grade. Finally the defendants would submit falsified applications for admission; with fraudulent grades, extracurriculars and standardized tests. 

This approximately $25 million bribery ring was run through a college admissions company located in Newport, California. The defendants used the facade of a charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribe payments.

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the Boston office of the F.B.I., noted that most families play by the rules and that  “You can’t lie and cheat to get ahead because you will get caught,” he said.

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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