The most prominent Colleges (among them being Yale University, Stanford University and Harvard University) in the US has been caught fraudulently selecting students into their programs through bribes, rigged tests and false accolades. This scam has cost less privileged students an education of their dreams and for every student who has been admitted to the College through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected. A CEO, coaches and many wealthy parents have been charged for this offence. Among the dozens that were charged, there were also two actresses who could face time in custody. This case shows the corruption of elite Colleges combined with fraud of the wealthy. It is argued that there should be no separate college admission system nor a separate criminal justice system for the wealthy.


The criminal accusations stretch from 2011 to 2019. William “Rick” Singer, the Newport Beach businessman is the man behind the alleged college admissions bribery scandal. He is the CEO and Master Coach of the world’s largest private Life Coaching and College Counselling Company, The Key. Singer and his company The Key allegedly helped wealthy students score better by helping them cheat on the exams. The scheme had two major components. In the first part, parents allegedly paid a college prep organisation to take the test on behalf of students or to correct their answers. Secondly, the organisation allegedly bribed college coaches to help admit the students into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their abilities, prosecutors said.

Singers said “OK, so, who we are … what we do is we help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school,” according to Prosecutors. Singer was paid about $25 million by parents to help their children get into colleges, said Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts. “The Key’s clientele is all referral based; consequently, the quality of the service provided to many of the world’s most renowned families and individuals has provided an incredible foundation for The Key to grow its offerings worldwide,” the website says.

Singer is also accused of bribing college coaches and athletic officials to say a prospective student should be accepted because the student was a recruit for their sports team. Singer and the coaches knew that the student was not a competitive player, however, and that his or her athletic profile was fake, an indictment said.

“All of these things, and many more things, I did,” Singer said. “I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.”

Prosecutors said Singer told one parent that he wanted to help the most privileged.

During his hearing at a Boston Federal Court on Tuesday, Singer pleaded guilty to four charges and admitted the allegations were true. The charges were:

  • Racketeering conspiracy;
  • Money laundering
  • Tax conspiracy; and
  • Obstruction of justice.

The 58-year-old could face up to 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $1.25 million fine and a $400 special assessment. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19 this year.


In all, 50 people were charged in the criminal investigation that went by the name “Operation Varsity Blues.” Those arrested include two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents, according to Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts. The charges included fraud conspiracy and money laundering offences. To charge someone with fraud, prosecutors must believe they can prove a specific intent to defraud someone else.

Sherry Guo came to California five years ago, a teenager from China with dreams of attending an elite University. Singer fashioned a fake application for Guo that described her as a top-notch soccer player, which was submitted to Yale by a soccer coach who took a $US400,000 ($A570,000) bribe. Once she was admitted, Guo’s family paid $US1.2 million to Singer and a charity he used to launder the bribes and other illicit funds. Her lawyer does not dispute she got into Yale through the machinations of William “Rick” Singer. Guo’s parents have not been charged.  Yale becomes the first school implicated in the US college admissions bribery scandal to publicly take action to boot a student as a result of the allegations.

The Times reported that another Chinese family paid Singer $US6.5 million to help secure their daughter a spot at Stanford University.

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are not just the most famous names in the case; their cases represent the two major aspects of the alleged 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 in a federal Court of Massachusetts. She was arrested without incident at her home, the FBI said.

Best known for her TV role in “Desperate Housewives,” Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to William Rick Singer’s fake charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation, to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs, the complaint says.


The crime of conspiracy requires an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act with the intention of carrying it out. It is the intention to carry out the crime which constitutes the necessary mens rea (mental element) for the offence: Yip Chiu-Cheung v R (1994).


The crime of money laundering is when you possess money that you know has been obtained through illegal criminal activity. Section 193B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) deals with this offence. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person has knowingly dealt with the proceeds of a crime and that they deliberately tried to conceal their use of those proceeds.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 20 years imprisonment.


Section 319 of the Crimes Act deals with this offence. The section states that:

“A person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years”.

We look forward to seeing the results of these serious offences. This shows that white-collar crime can have a devastating and wide-reaching impact on the public.

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