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Actresses Involved in Scam to Get Kids into Top Colleges
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12 Mar 2019 07:44 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin (Image source: Screenshot 1 and Screenshot 2 

 

Remember trying everything you could to get a certain grade point average to get into just the right college? Remember being upset when you had to go to community college for a few years to raise that GPA so that you could get into a decent college?

 

Federal authorities on Tuesday unveiled a scam between colleges and wealthy individuals who bought their children's way into college. It involves a large group of people, including two actresses that bought their kids' educations: Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. 

 This wasn't just a few individuals at the college level that took part, and this wasn't just a few wealthy individuals — this was a large scam involving multiple bribes of test administrators, college coaches, and wealthy parents. William Rick Singer, who owned the business behind the scam, explained his business as, "What we do is help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school."

 

The Edge College and Career Network helped facilitate bribes for college entrance exams, such as SAT and ACT, according to federal prosecutors.  

Sometimes it wouldn't even be the student taking the test, and at other times the students were fed the answers during the test. The test could also be changed after the students took it to improve their answers. Since students with disabilities are allowed extra time or can take a test alone, parents lied that their children had a disability to get more time.

 

As the parent of a child with a disability who did get extra time on her tests, It's particularly upsetting to learn other parents used something painful to my child to get their child into a college. It's like the people who soak people for money by lying and saying they have cancer. 

One parent even sent in a sample of her child's handwriting so that it could be replicated by whomever was actually taking the test. Not that the children were in on it, though. Most didn't know they were getting into college illegally.

 

A witness, which is thought to possibly be Singer, said, "They're all kids that wouldn't have perform[ed] as well and then they did really well. ... It was so funny 'cause the kids will call and say, 'Maybe I should do that again. I did pretty well, and if I took it again, I'll do even better." 

 With spots reserved at some colleges for student-athletes, the requirements aren't as set as they are for other students. Sometimes the student would get into the school on their athletic merits even though they never played that particular sport. A witness referred to the process as a "side-door."

 

It's unknown if this means some real student-athletes were then denied entry. There were even photoshopped pictures of the fake athletes involved in the sport, or sometimes they would stage the photos.  

Wealthy parents donated to the Key World Foundation charity that would then make a donation to coaches or a university program. Doing this through a charity also allowed the parents to take a tax deduction on their bribe.

 

And this was a big donation going to "charity." The wealthy parents paid between $15,000 and $75,000 for each test. One family paid $1.6 million to get their child into Yale University. Tuition normally runs $72,000 annually at Yale. In 2017 they only admitted 7 percent of those who applied. 

The large group that has been arrested so far may not even be everyone that was involved. One witness who worked with the athletic scam claims to have worked with around 800 families.

 

"Full House" actress Lori Loughlin flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday where she was expected to surrender. "Aunt Becky" is facing felony charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for her part in the scheme.  

Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, and actress Felicity Huffman were arrested on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles for their part in the scam that is known as "Operation Varsity Blues." They are all due to appear in federal court late Tuesday.

 

As if it wasn't enough that the children of these celebrities and wealthy parents could attend any college they get admitted to based on their parents' income and fame, their parents found a way to make sure they could get into THE college they wanted by using that same money. 

The question is how such a large scam will affect our country as a whole, and this of course depends on how deeply this scam went. Were these young adults receiving fake degrees as well, or were they actually doing the work once they got into these prestigious schools?

 

If they weren't, now we are faced with a society that doesn't even have the talents or knowledge they say they do, yet they may be working in a job that requires that. Hopefully the safety of people isn't at risk, such as if these young people decided to go into medicine.  

From the sounds of it, though, it seems like this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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