The US Justice Department arrested nearly 50 people nationwide in a scheme they say involved cheating on exams, bribing coaches and exaggerating athletic ability in order to secure admission to a number of US universities.
FBI says this collage scam is the biggest collage admission scam in US history. The investigators said it arrested dozens of people, including executives and famous actors and actresses.
The Federal prosecutor revealed that the college admissions is largest of its kind ever prosecuted, which features 50 defendants across six states, millions of dollars in illegally funneled funds and a handful of the country’s most selective universities.
But at its core, the alleged scheme is remarkably simple and brazen.
Cheat on standardized tests. Bribe the people who decide which students get admitted. All the while pretending that money was for charity.
The CEO behind the college admissions cheating scam wanted to help the wealthy. But that’s not all
“I’ll speak more broadly, there were essentially two kinds of fraud that Singer was selling,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said, referring to William Rick Singer, the figure at the center of the scheme.
“One was to cheat on the SAT or ACT, and the other was to use his connections with Division I coaches and use bribes to get these parents’ kids into school with fake athletic credentials,” Lelling said at a press conference in Boston.
A total of 50 people were charged in the case. Those arrested include two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents, according to Lelling.
Here’s how the plan worked, according to prosecutors.
Cheating on the ACTs and SATs
Of course, students who score higher on standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT are more likely to get into selective colleges.
Given that, Singer facilitated cheating on those exams for students whose wealthy parents paid for his services.
Singer pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday to four federal charges and admitted that the case against him was accurate.
According to the indictment, he arranged for a third-party generally Mark Riddell, who is charged with two conspiracies counts to secretly take the test in the students’ place or replace their responses with his own.
Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin among dozens charged in alleged college cheating scam
How did Riddell allegedly take the tests without being noticed by the test administrators? Well, prosecutors said, Singer bribed them.
Igor Dvorskiy, who administered SAT and ACT tests in Los Angeles, and Lisa “Niki” Williams, who administered the tests at a public high school in Houston, are both accused of accepting bribes to allow Riddell to take the tests. Both are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, according to the indictment.
Parents who hired Singer as part of the scheme allegedly paid between $15,000 and $75,000 per test, the indictment states.
CNN has reached out to Riddell, Williams and Dvorskiy.
The case of Felicity Huffman allegedly describes this type of scheme.
Huffman, an Academy Award nominee, has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court paperwork filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts. She was arrested without incident at her home, the FBI said.
She is accused of paying $15,000 to Singer’s fake charity to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs, the complaint says.
A cooperating witness told authorities he purportedly traveled from Tampa to a West Hollywood test center to administer Huffman’s daughter’s exam. She received a 1420 on her test, which was 400 points higher than a PSAT taken a year earlier without the same administrator, the complaint states.
Huffman discussed the alleged scheme in a recorded phone call with Singer, the complaint says.
Bribing coaches for spots
College coaches do not explicitly decide who gets accepted into their university. But they do recommend to the admissions office certain recruited athletes to be accepted.