“The truth is often stranger than fiction.” This adage is proven to be a kind of truth by an incident which involved two prominent Hollywood actresses, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Along with other individuals, the two were found to be part of a large-scale scheme. This scheme was all about letting children of famous people to be accepted into the most prominent schools in the USA, despite having unimpressive grades.
The elaborate scheme began in the year 2011. A number of people agreed to become accomplices in one of the biggest US college admission fraud schemes. A total of around $US 25 million had been spent to let college-age youth be part of the prestigious educational institutions, notwithstanding their less-than-stellar grades.
The People Behind the Scene
Aside from the two famous Hollywood actresses formerly mentioned, a number of prominent individuals were also “in the know” regarding the scandal. The total count was approximately 50 people (including Chief Executive Officers and sports coaches). Aside from these individuals, many college admission test officials and school administrators were also in on the plan.
In a nutshell, the scheme could be best described as “brilliantly-planned and well-executed.” Among the accusations ascribed to the perpetrators are:
a. Bribery of the college admission exam officials to persuade them to allow cheating on the exams itself;
b. Bribery among coaches and school administrators to let test-takers pass off as athletes (even though they are not) in order to have access to educational institutions;
c. Utilizing institutions focusing on charity activities to be able to hide transactions which include bribes;
d. Letting other people attend school and take tests instead of the examinees themselves. Along with this, presenting the obtained grades as part of the college application requests.
e. Presenting a fraudulent college admission application including false test scores, academic grades, awards, and activities involving sports.
The Unraveling of the Scheme
No matter how carefully planned a scheme is, it will ultimately be revealed. Here is the breakdown of how the $US25-million College Admission Fraud Scheme was brought to an end:
a. The scheme was unintentionally made known to the Federal Bureau of Investigation authorities while they were on a different operation. No students were included in the cases filed since the prosecutors deemed that their parents were the main ones involved in the plot.
b. A number of agents scoured the USA to arrest perpetrators in what was coded as “Operation Varsity Blues”.
c. One of the main figures behind the scheme, William “Rick” Singer was charged with being an accomplice through his business. He admitted that his connection to the scheme had certain illicit acts. His decision was made with the hope that helping the authorities will aid him in getting a more benevolent sentence.
d. Another accomplice is John Vandemoor, formerly employed as a coach at Stanford University. He also agreed to plead guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy.
e. Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are charged with bribing concerned person in order to have their two daughters appear to be part of the USC (University of Southern California) crew team, which helped the latter get into the school.
f. Meanwhile, Felicity Huffman faces charges of shelling out a large amount of money, cleverly passed off as a donation to a specified organization. In exchange, the actress’ daughter could have her SAT answers corrected after taking it.
The US College Admission Fraud Scheme has rocked a nation. It certainly had prevalent repercussions in terms of the people and institutions that were affected by it. Some schools had already taken action in order to prevent another scandal like this from happening again:
a. The schools of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas and the University of California Los Angeles had issued a stern warning that any student providing deceptive personal information will be subjected to prompt disciplinary procedures.
b. The University of Southern California, on the other hand, has publicly stated that it will refuse to accept or even expel anyone who is found to be entangled in the scheme.
c. Wake Forest and the University of Texas in Austin, Texas are presently scrutinizing their acceptance procedures when it comes to student-athletes.
d. Wake Forest was also strictly reviewing its acceptance procedures but made an exception in the case of one student. The student’s coach was alleged to have taken a bribe to make her a varsity athlete. The school has no plans to implicate the student since they do not have sufficient evidence to prove that she was aware of the scheme.
In the end, we have to realize that no secret is ever really kept a secret. No matter how hard we try, the truth shall always prevail.