What would you do to help your child get into a good school?
It turns out some of the elite in our country would go as far as to pay off test administrators and coaches to make sure their children had high test scores and could take full advantage of the different standards colleges set for student athletes, even if their athletic records were a farce.
“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky in the popular 90s sitcom “Full House,” are among the names of rich Americans who engaged in such bribery and misleading tactics to ensure their children were admitted to top universities.
Take a look:
Des Moines Register has details on how the college admissions scam worked:
On Tuesday, federal authorities unveiled the results of a sting that could take down TV celebrities and college coaches.
The scam required dozens of bribes of test administrators and relied on colleges’ different standards for student-athletes. William Rick Singer, the person at the center of the scam, described it more succinctly: “What we do is help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.”
Here’s how they did it, according to hundreds of pages of court documents detailing the allegations — the anatomy of a scam:
Bribe college exam administrators
The Edge College and Career Network would help set up bribes of administrators of exams like the SAT or ACT, federal prosecutors allege. In some cases, someone else took the test for the student. In other cases, the students were given answers during the test. Their test might also be revised after the fact.
This, the feds say, is how "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman used Singer's company: She paid a testing official to help her daughter on her SAT test or change her test answers.
One lie leads to another
To get to this point often required more deception. These tests generally take place in large group sessions, though students with disabilities are allowed extra time. They also can take the test alone. That meant parents would have to lie about their children's having a learning disability.
The students also had to take tests at sites where the network had control. Parents were told to “fabricate a reason — such as a bar mitzvah or a wedding,” that would explain why they needed to take the test elsewhere.
Were the students in on it?
Apparently no. Many had no idea their parents were paying to illicitly alter their tests. One key witness, thought to 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.' "
Claim to be an athlete
Universities and colleges who compete in sports nationally have special slots designated for student-athletes. Typically, the academic requirements for such slots are less stringent than they would be for a traditional student. The key witness described this process as entering through a “side-door.”
You can follow the story as it continues to unfold in at ABC News, which gives more detail on the inner workings of the scandal:
Singer would instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take SAT and ACT entrance exams by obtaining medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, and an exam proctor helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges.
Riddell would allegedly either take the tests for students or would correct their answers after they took the tests, according to the indictment.
To bolster students' college entrance applications, Singer worked with parents to allegedly concoct glowing profiles of their children, including staged or Photoshopped pictures of them participating in sports, the indictment alleges.
In one case highlighted by federal prosecutors, the former head women’s soccer coach at Yale University, Rudolph "Rudy" Meredith, 51, was paid $400,000 to accept a student even though the applicant did not play soccer. The parents of that student had paid Singer $1.2 million.
According to the charging papers, Huffman "made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000" to a sham charity set up by Singer to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter.
The actress allegedly made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so, the documents allege.
Huffman's husband, actor William H. Macy, was not charged, but according to the court document he and Huffman were caught on a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness in the case allegedly discussing a $15,000 payment to ensure their younger daughter scored high on a college entrance exam.