William Rick Singer, founder of for-profit college prep business Edge College & Career Network also known as “The Key,” wrote a book called, “Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice.” In his book, Singer revealed advice and secrets about the college admissions process. However, his biggest secret was just recently revealed and cost him $1.2 million. The prosecution has charged Singer as the lead of a 50-person widespread college-admission cheating plot, possibly the largest scam to hit the US.
Singer began offering services as an admissions consultant in the 1990’s and hit a peak in 2011, when his deception began, according to investigations. He promised parents that he could get their children into any school they desired. Parents told the New York Times that they were “drawn by his confidence and implications that he knew the tricks to give students an edge in college admissions.” Singer was able to convince over 50 parents to join his movement, but at a cost.
Prosecutors say he has collected about $25 million from dozens of individuals including, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, over the course of 10 years to bribe coaches and administrators into pretending their children were athletic recruits in order to ensure their admission into their top choice colleges. Allegedly, Singer recruited coaches (who he paid off) into his scheme by telling them others were involved and there have been previous students who were accepted with no incidents. According to USA Today, a “204-page affidavit from an FBI agent, laid out a scheme involving proctors changing test results, fabricated credentials and even doctored pictures to make non-athletic students appear to be accomplished athletes.”
Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, reportedly claimed Singer’s clients paid him “anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million” for his unique services. The parents of prospective students conspired with Singer to ensure their children were admitted into colleges or universities including Yale, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wake Forest and others. According to the charging documents, Singer facilitated cheating on the SAT and ACT exams by instructing the parents to seek extra time on entrance exams by pretending to have learning disabilities.
Senior girls lacrosse captain, Samantha O’Neill, says “The whole situation is really disappointing to me. I have been playing lacrosse my whole life and my hard work paid off when I got into Florida Southern College through lacrosse. It makes me really upset that these people were able cheat the system and get away with it for so long. It’s an unfairness to the people who actually worked hard to get where they are.”
On Tuesday, March 11, Singer pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom in Boston, Massachusetts to racketeering, money laundering, tax evasion and obstruction of justice. There were a total of 50 people, more than 30 parents and nine coaches, who were charged in the scheme.