At this time of year, many parents are turning their attention to their children’s college educations. Depending on how far along your child is in high school, you may be searching catalogues online or receiving them in the mail, visiting colleges and universities, or helping your child pack for the big move to campus. It can be a bittersweet time, and you certainly want what is best for your child.
While you may be willing to do whatever it takes to get your child into his or her first choice, it is wise to keep in mind the price many recently paid for stepping over the line and committing fraud to secure admittance to elite institutions. As important as it may seem to get your child into a top-ranking college, there are certain fraudulent actions that may result in severe and life-changing penalties.
An array of charges involved
To achieve entrance to a quality institute of higher learning, a student must have exceptional grades, high SAT scores, solid recommendations and success in extracurricular activities, such as athletics. Not every student can achieve these goals, but they may still qualify for admission to good colleges. Depending on your student’s goals, however, a top-ranked institution may be a critical factor on a resume. You may have heard about the steps a group of parents allegedly took to obtain admission to certain schools despite that their children did not qualify:
- Bribing athletic coaches to falsely credit their children with athletic qualifications
- Hiring other students to take the SATs for their children
- Bribing SAT test administrators to change answers on their children’s tests
- Using political connections to persuade college administrators to admit their children
- Money laundering by using a fake charity through which to funnel their money for bribes and payoffs
- Conspiring with others to commit these and other unlawful acts
Because investigators believe the parents used the U.S. Postal Service, telephone lines and the internet, many also faced mail fraud and wire fraud charges. A conviction for a single one of these charges could result in years behind bars and the consequences that come with a permanent criminal record.
Authorities and college administrators are watching carefully for signs that parents have taken unlawful steps to secure admittance. You would be wise to seek legal representation as quickly as possible if you find yourself facing accusations of college admissions fraud or related charges, such as money laundering, identity theft or conspiracy. The heavy penalties these crimes carry for conviction may leave you with a very uncertain future.