The feds crack down on a national college admissions scandal — but who’s Rick Singer?

Actresses, business leaders, and other wealthy parents were charged in the largest American college admissions scandal ever, but who is Rick Springer?


March 12, 2019

Federal prosecutors charged dozens of people on Tuesday in what is now the largest college admissions scandal in US history.

“Fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said — oh, and a whole lotta dumb parents.

At least 33 parents — from Hollywood celebrity Felicity Huffman to TPG co-founder and Silicon Valley social responsibility crusader Bill McGlashan — were charged for bribing their children into top universities.

At the center of it all sits William Rick Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business called “the Edge College & Career Network” — AKA “The Key.” And boy did he create a business model.

The feds call it “Operation Varsity Blues”

Authorities said Mr. Singer, who is fully cooperating, used The Key, and its nonprofit arm, as a front for parents to funnel money into an admittance assurance fund. 

Through this account Singer composed scenarios where students took tests with test administrators that Singer paid as much as $10k to oversee.

To ensure higher scores, Singer would arrange for a 3rd person “to take the exams in place of the students,” the Justice Department said.

And he wasn’t just the chief bribing exec…

The dude was also a real photoshop whiz.

In one example, the parents of a student applying to Yale paid Mr. Singer $1.2m to market the student, who did not play soccer, as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in Southern California. He did so, along with many others, by using photoshop to provide visual proof.

Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25m from 2011 until February 2019, to bribe coaches and university administrators into backdooring students into the school through athletics.

The collegiate conundrum

The charges highlight how competitive the college admissions process can be — so cutthroat, in fact, that some feel the need to break rules.

Of course, this cheats other hardworking students out of a chance at a college education.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.