Profile of a Scam: How Rick Singer Built a College Entrance Cheating Machine

The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth report on how William “Rick” Singer, the architect and head honcho of the college admissions cheating and bribery operation that has generated 50 criminal indictments, built up his network.

One reason this scandal has attracted so much interest is that it’s another nail in the coffin of the legitimacy of the professional classes, the obsession with credentials as proof that their elevated position was well deserved. At some point, I hope to return to a topic I wrote about many years ago, about how meritocracy is an illusion (not simply that it isn’t observed much in practice, but that it is unattainable).

But after looking at so many finance scams, such as many varieties of mortgage fraud, CDOs, Bernie Madoff, money laundering, private equity abuses, Wells Fargo stealing from depositors, it’s instructive to look at at how a little crime syndicate grew and prospered before it was busted.

As an aside, I fail to understand how Singer and his co-conspirators didn’t recognize that their activities were hitting the scale where they were sure to be found out. But I guess the short answer is the money is so enticing that it becomes hard to stop or even dial it down. Look at the house that it allowed a mere former coach to buy in tony Newport Beach:

And Singer has the air of a hyper-active promoter who liked risk.

As a reminder, here are the core illegal services Singer provided:

Guaranteeing a pre-specified result on the SAT and ACT. This was achieved either by having someone take the test in lieu of the student or having the score corrected. Parents paid from $15,000 to $75,000. Here’s how that worked:

For children who he felt needed higher test scores, Mr. Singer tapped Mark Riddell. The 2004 Harvard University graduate had the uncanny ability to nail just the score a student needed—but not so high it would draw scrutiny—on demand, authorities say…

In 2011 and 2012, Mr. Riddell, whom friends describe as sandy blond, about 6-foot-5 and in his late 20s at the time, pretended to be teenage brothers of Indian descent and sat in testing sites in Orange County, Calif., and Vancouver, Canada, to take college-entrance exams on the boys’ behalf, according to court filings….

Mr. Riddell used fake IDs that paired his likeness with the teens’ names, according to court filings….

In 2012 the College Board, which administers the SAT, announced new security measures, including closer scrutiny of IDs….Mr. Singer settled on a new strategy: bribing administrators at testing sites, according to court filings.

First, he told parents to have their children pretend to have learning disabilities to secure a doctor’s note allowing them special accommodations such as extra time.

Then, he had them make up reasons why they would be near one of two sites in Houston or West Hollywood, Calif., where Mr. Singer said he had bribed test administrators. Mr. Riddell would fly in from Florida and the administrator would give him free rein to either take the tests in private rooms or correct answers after, according to court filings.

Even though prosecutors described the typical fee as $15,000 to $75,000, the father of the two Indian boys paid $200,000 for both.

One nagging question is how Singer was able to approach and bribe the various test company and university officials. The Journal presents one piece of that puzzle, how he got to the administrators in Houston test centers:

In Houston, prosecutors allege Mr. Singer got help from Martin Fox, a sports promoter well known in tennis and youth and college basketball circles…

“He was the kind of guy who would drive everybody around, the hustler guy,” said Sonny Vaccaro, a veteran consultant to the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok, in an interview. “Martin is the man who knew the way to get through the jigsaw puzzle.”

Mr. Singer allegedly paid $50,000 in 2016 to Mr. Fox, who introduced him to Niki Williams, according to court filings. She was visible in the community as an assistant teacher and cheerleading coach at public Jack Yates High School, a basketball powerhouse in Houston, according to interviews. She was also an administrator of a college-exam testing site there, according to court filings.

Mr. Singer bribed Ms. Williams through Mr. Fox, prosecutors said. Ms. Williams’s lawyer declined to comment.

Guaranteeing admission to certain colleges, including Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and USC. This was done by Singer helping fabricate that the students were elite athletes, and having coaches at these schools press for the admission of these students and even cover for them when they failed to participate in the sport. Parents paid from $200,000 to $6.5 million. Here’s an example from the Journal:

Mr. [Douglas} Hodge, the former Pimco executive, had a target to hit: an acceptance letter from Georgetown University for his daughter.

Problem was, she had only a 50% shot “at best” of getting in based on her academic record alone, Mr. Singer wrote to Mr. Hodge in a February 2008 email, according to court filings.

Mr. Singer added promising news: “There may be an Olympic Sports angle we can use.”

A bogus tennis-player profile landed the girl a spot at Georgetown, after allegedly being flagged for special consideration by then tennis coach Gordon Ernst. She never joined the team once she got to college, according to federal authorities…

Mr. Hodge paid a total $525,000 to Mr. Singer or others in his network as part of the admissions scheme for his second and third child, prosecutors said. Details of whether money changed hands for the daughter who attended Georgetown weren’t included in court documents.

So how did Singer create his crooked business?

Singer started out and continued to run a legitimate “college counseling” business. He began in the early 1990s, using contacts from his prior life as a high school athletic coach in Texas and California, and later as assistant men’s basketball coach at one of the California State University schools. He also worked for The Money Store and oversaw call centers. The Journal isn’t clear on how these two careers overlapped, but Singer set up The College Source in 2002 and Edge College & Career Network in 2007, so it looks likely that he was working on his college coaching business full time by then.

Singer was fortunate to get into this field relatively early. Some parents who used his services, like golfer Phil Mickelson, say they used only Singer’s legal services. He charged between $10,000 and $20,000 for that.

The illegal “guarantee” services were vastly more lucrative. Singer had started his dirty business by 2008. Prosecutors allege that typical fees were between $200,000 and $400,000.

Singer wormed his way into the money manager network. He was apparently a high-energy, credible-seeming presenter. He had also been at his machinations long enough to have a reputation on the legitimate and crooked side of his business. The Journal reports that Oppenheimer and Pimco had hosted events where Singer was the showcase speaker, and Morgan Stanley had has his foundation that laundered bribes to college coaches, on a referral list. This gives an idea of the drill:

Early last year, a money-management firm welcomed wealthy clients to the top floor of a Seattle skyscraper for an exclusive presentation titled “Raising a Balanced Child in an Affluent Environment.” It featured a dynamic college-counseling coach, who bounded across the stage in a zip-up track suit….

Court filings and interviews indicate that financial advisers sent clients to Mr. Singer. In November 2017, for instance, an employee at a Los Angeles-based financial adviser emailed Mr. Singer, introducing him to a parent who wished to make a “donation” to “one of those top schools” for his daughter, according to federal filings, which don’t name the firm.

Singer also tapped into a blue-chippy network:

Mr. Singer also met prospective new clients through YPO, formerly known as Young Presidents Organization, a global network for business leaders. The group said Mr. Singer spoke at two local chapter events, in San Diego and in Bellevue, Wash., years ago.

Singer preyed on parents’ anxieties and need for certainty. Again from the Journal:

Audience members at the Freestone Capital Management event scribbled furiously on notepads, peppered Mr. Singer with questions and surrounded him after his presentation, said Betsy Brown Braun, a parenting expert who shared the stage that evening. “It was like he had the magic elixir that would get your kid into school,” she said….

“He’s a heck of a speaker,” said Mr. [Gary] Furukawa [Freestone’s founder]. He knew how to hit all the hot buttons for ambitious people who are “really wound up about their kids,” he said.

Over time, word of mouth became an important source for Singer’s cheating and bribery operation. At some elite schools, like Marlborough,a girls’ school in Los Angeles, Singer was apparently known as a fixer. The Journal reports that an indicted father of a student at Marin Academy was caught on tape saying to Singer that he knew he had helped another student cheat on entrance tests. The second father has also been indicted. Singer also made inroads at Sage Hill School in Newport Beach, where two defendants were on its board.

Note that there are only 50 indictments so far, which encompass Singer, his various co-conspirators in universities and at testing agencies, and the parents who paid the bribes. The Department of Justice obtained permission to wiretap Singer, and he claimed to have provided illegal help to nearly 800 families. Only 33 have been indicted so far. How many more will be in the dock?

Oh, and the best part? Singer started out in Sacramento.

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49 comments

  1. divadab

    Good! Get them! And for good measure the degrees of these people who committed fraud to get admission should be revoked.

    Reply
    1. bruce wilder

      Because nothing makes it clear that credentialism is b.s. like treating the credential like a sacred totem that can only be possessed by the pure and worthy.

      Reply
  2. Michael Fiorillo

    As a public school teacher who spent years being subjected to arrogant, ignorant TFA/reformer types destroying schools and teacher’s lives, while invariably being described as “the Best and Brightest” (but clueless to the irony David Halberstam intended by using that term), it’s hard to describe the pleasure and satisfaction this scandal is giving me.

    In this day and age, you takes your pleasures where you gets them.

    Reply
  3. rob

    This story is another chapter of the book called “distraction”. Like the last chapter…meuller report. and all the others…

    This is one of those times it is good to see a mechanical working of a scam, if for no other reason than to describe things like this;which are really just symptoms of our current and past predicament.
    Just think, a lot of people don’t think people are cheating all over the place. they believe in meritocracy. But really, this is just a fairly typical thing… people doing things, and getting around rules..
    At the university of north carolina at chapel hill
    There was a “scandal” that barely happened….. it puffed up, it came out, the zeitgeist seemed to call it no big deal… and moved on…
    It was just a typical thing……
    for the sport venue side of college athletics…
    It came out that “people MOSTLY in the various sporting programs(basketball)” (i would also be curious who had this special service who wasn’t on a team)
    The story was that there were “fake classes” for some people to “have”. Of course, they did well in these classes that didn’t actually exist,and they didn’t actually attend. These ” classes” had been taking place for the 18 years before the scandal broke. That means generations of graduating classes, different leadership, that was back in the dean smith era… .
    This means that the university leadership must have been aware, because someone had to provide course codes, and all the reporting aspects for graduation requirements.
    So really, the unc chapel hill basketball team makes the university A LOT of money…. this seemed to have been worth “cheating for”, as deemed by the executives there.
    My guess is that it was going on for longer than 18 years, that is probably when they switched to computer codes and what could be done before with “paperwork”; now had to have a “code number” or some such. and is traceable to that point.
    I would also guess that this is not an isolated case. these are just things that are, in between times they get caught.

    Then we have the “legacy” treatment of people getting into schools, who may not really belong there.

    And if that doesn’t work for you…
    you can buy a degree online…..
    or hell… remember when the most popular alma matter of congressional interns was “Liberty university.”….

    My point being…… so what?
    education is as rife with fraud as the rest of society… maybe that is part of the lesson.

    Reply
  4. the suck of sorrow

    Do not think in the course of this comment that I condone the Mr Singer’s actions or the parents who engaged his services.
    But really, compared to the asset inflation of residential real estate in the previous decade that left many families underwater, this does not set my outrage meter quite so high. Do dummies get into elite schools? The short answer is, “yes!”
    I would prefer to see the energy expended in this ‘crisis’ put into clawing back wrongful gains of the past decade by outright fraud which imperiled a person’s prime asset, their home and went essentially unpunished.

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      Your sentiments are certainly understandable, but this crisis may be yet more evidence that the truly rich and powerful will continue to get a “stay out of jail card” while the not quite so powerful and rich are put on public display for their sins.

      So far no powerful politician has been indicted in this crisis. Is this because they need not be concerned that their children will not get into the “right school”?

      This ‘crisis’ might be an inexpensive and well-received bone to throw to the masses to show that the government is “concerned” about fairness.

      It makes for great media as it shows the government will prosecute non-donor class wealthy people while providing a display of enforcement of “fair play” to the population.

      But did this effort keep US justice from reforming/prosecuting financial crimes?

      I’d suggest the political establishment (Dem and Repub) doesn’t want to go there.

      And won’t.

      Reply
    2. zer0

      This Singer stuff…is the tip of the iceberg.
      Singer was the play hard and fast guy. There are services that are much more obscure, not completely illegal, but not completely legal, like getting your kid a doctor’s diagnosis for ADHD: practically any kid can be diagnosed with it, and it does give you tons of extra hours on the SAT/ACT.

      This was #1 way for parents at my sister’s high school, Crossroads (very much in the Sage, Malborough, Brentwood, and Harvard Westlake circle of ultra-elite schools), to cheat and get very high scores. I mean near perfect scores for students that really had no reason getting even in the top 10%. Students taking tests AT CROSSROADS and taking the questions (because the doctor’s diagnosis unlocks taking the tests over mutiple weekends) to their tutors to ‘review’, and then amending their answers the next weekend.

      Its ctually a ig deal, because going to Harvard or Yale or another top school paves the way into a big corporation, which paves the way to management, which in turn paves the way for people seeking positions in politics, big name financial institutions, etc.

      Why do you think the political/elite class in the US has gotten more myopic, more inline with the establishment? Because they come from a long line of the same ilk.

      There are virtually no people who started out poor in the US political system. You could count them on your hands. Funnily enough, Steve Bannon is one of the few that comes to mind.

      Reply
      1. Chiman

        For people seriously considering tagging their kid with a diagnosis of ADHD, understand that it’s a lifetime thing. In particular, getting a pilot’s license will be very demanding and time-consuming. The FAA medical examiners are not on the take, and they are opposed in principle to grant flying privileges to anyone who has a history of cognitive disorders.

        Of course, if you’re rich enough, you just hire a pilot to fly your plane. But that’s a different story.

        Reply
  5. Steve

    I don’t understand the point of all this effort. So the kid gets in, what happens next year, or even at the end of the first semester? Straight bribery? The scheme has to fall apart quickly.

    Reply
    1. PKMKII

      Which raises the follow up question, are these “Elite” colleges actually that hard to graduate from? If a “good enough for state school” student gets in via fraud and then is able to pass all their classes and get the “elite of the elite” diploma, then perhaps the real scandal here isn’t that the rich and famous fraudulently get their failchildren into elite colleges. The scandal is that the professional world so blindly and uncritically takes “graduated from elite college” as a sign of competence and does not check to see if they can actually walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, metaphorically speaking.

      Reply
    2. XXYY

      With certain honorable exceptions, I don’t think there’s much evidence that the courses at elite colleges are harder than “regular” colleges, or that graduating is more difficult. In many ways these colleges are easier: class sizes are smaller; professors, TAs, and counseling are much more available; and there is generally a lot more hand holding of students and parents. No one at an elite college is interested in kicking out a tuition-paying student, unlike the average state school where you are quickly gone if you aren’t cutting it.

      By far the hardest thing about graduating from an elite school is getting in; once you can bribe your way through that, you’re good!

      Reply
      1. russell1200

        Another method sometimes is in public schools is to accept many people and then have certain weed out courses that will only let a certain percentage through. You simply set the curve at the amount of students you want to keep moving on. In some ways this is fairer, but I think your modern “college ranking guides” score against this method, so my guess is that it is no longer common.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I hate to tell you, but one of the reasons I went to Harvard is my father went to a state school and (very late, he was the oldest guy in his class) to Harvard Business School.

        It was clear to my father (and actually a shock to him) that the Ivy League/elite college kids were better educated.

        I can confirm that having recruited for McKinsey and Goldman, as well as from my own experience at HBS.

        You don’t get that the profs, even if they just lecture, are often eminent in their fields, and the teaching assistants are no slouches (for instance, Ec 101, the biggest course on campus, had`~1000 students, all in the biggest lecture hall on campus. My TA had Ken Arrow as his adviser, thought Arrow was an idiot [long story there] and later became prof at Stanford, then a very successful quant fund manager). So you are discounting higher caliber faculty.

        Similarly, my sophomore tutorial in my major basically taught me how to write. It was painful. You had to write a paper most weeks, and the TAs would each write more on each paper than I had written. They really forced me to develop the writing version of hand-eye coordination. And I wasn’t alone. That course reading load alone was ~500 pages a week, a lot of it in French. I had other courses with similar heavy reading loads I was taking at the same time.

        Now you can take “gut” majors (the college athletes often do this) but recruiters know what those majors are and kids who take those majors do have a tough time getting hired by elite firms. They need to have been doing something exceptional on the side to justify having taken easy classes. But guts are not an impediment to getting a regular corporate job, and a lot of the not as studious personable types advance faster than the status-competitive types do going to elite employers.

        Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    In this day & age, you could learn everything you ever wanted to know-certainly as much as many top universities as you’d like, right here on the internet, for free.

    Yeah, it’d be awkward filling in the spot on your resume that asks highest learning attained, with the words ‘Internet College’.

    Some employers are going to balk at that.

    Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    This is the early days of the investigation but I do wonder if Singer had neglected to make the right connections to help safeguard his position or not. It would have been so simple and judging by the amounts mentioned in bribes, he could certainly have afforded it. Maybe a few big cheques to the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club. A coupla cheques strategically timed (for when they most need the funding) to political representatives for the Democrats on both the State and Federal level. Maybe a few to the Republican party as well to keep them happy. His attendance to a few fundraisers. Maybe this is being overtly cynical but when you see a photo of Harvey Weinstein with Hillary Clinton, you know that this is more than just friendship at work.
    That image of Singer’s house reminded me, by the way, that it also featured over at McMansion Hell recently-
    http://mcmansionhell.com/post/183417051691/in-honor-of-the-college-admissions-scandal

    Reply
    1. Harrold

      Singer was nailed on a stock market ‘pump & dump’ scheme. He offered up details about his college entrance scam in order to curry favor with the prosecution and receive a lighter sentence.

      Looks like it will work out well for him and I doubt he will spend any time in prison.

      Reply
  8. Heraclitus

    There was a NYTs article a couple of years ago about post-college salaries depending on where you attended school. The typical college graduate earned about $32,000 at age thirty four. Ivy and Ivy equivalent (Duke) grads earned about $80,000 annually at thirty four. My guess is that this is because investment banks and big league consulting firms recruit at the Ivies. If you looked at salaries at age fifty, the average college grad and the average Ivy League grad would be a lot closer, in my opinion, because the big payers at 34 (tech, investment banks, consulting) are no longer big employers. It’s up or out.

    In short, I don’t think all the stress involved in getting into the ‘best’ schools is worth it.

    Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    In the 19th century wealthy Americans sometimes bought titles for their daughters in the UK, et tu Winston?

    It’s similar now, but different. The titles being of worth as talismans of being worthy of being in a top university.

    Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        One Conrad Black, he of Hollinger Corp fame, Baron Black of Crossharbour, prison in Chicago following fraud conviction, You mean him?

        Reply
  10. Polar Donkey

    I think the focus on income from a Ivy vs non-Ivy is misplaced. This is all about status. Status is hard to buy. That’s why some parents paid $6.5 rather than just give the kid the money. I see it all the time just here in little old Memphis. Your kid has to go to the right pre-school, then the right elementary, and high school. I personally know people that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on private schools and then send their kid to Old Miss. Ole Miss for God sakes. When you say to them why did you spend all that money on private schools to them send them to Ole Miss. It is difficult to get into grad school with most under-grad degrees from Ole Miss. These parents look at me like I am crazy. With my dumbass middle class mindset i may as well be from a different country . Sure, you can go to school to learn, but the main point is getting in the regional oligarchy and networking. Then you can drive around Memphis with your old miss license plate on your Lexus suv. When you scale up from Memphis to Silicon Valley or LA, I fully understand the mindset of these parent buying access for their kids. USC is the Old Miss of LA.

    Reply
  11. XXYY

    Not discussed much so far is the effect of this scandal on The College Board, who owns and operates the SAT test, and on the ACT organization, which owns and administers the ACT.

    These companies represent their very expensive tests to every college and university as the very backbone of the merit system of college application. A good score on these tests has been guaranteed to signal an intelligent and hard working student. Now it’s clear that neither test is any such thing, and that any score on either test can be had by anybody with the right amount of money. Indeed, students earning “perfect” scores on these tests will be regarded with suspicion going forward: are they actually smart, or are they below average but wealthy and corrupt? The value of these tests was their reputation for fairness and integrity, and these things are now gone.

    At the very least, we can expect massive new security measures for test taking, but it’s not clear this will do much good, especially in the short term while the scandal and prosecutions are fresh in everyone’s mind. The SAT and ACT maybe be done as institutions.

    Another crisis of lost institutional trust as the oligarchy ramps up!

    Reply
    1. Joe Well

      The value of these tests was their reputation for fairness and integrity, and these things are now gone.

      I agree with your sentiment. And yet there were a lot of leftists on Twitter arguing in favor of these tests, saying that they were less game-able and less reflective of privilege than GPA and extracurriculars. The scary thought is that may be true. The whole edifice is rotten.

      However, as an educator, I can say that these tests just aren’t very valid as assessment. Good assessment is time-consuming. No multiple choice test will ever do the job right.

      Reply
  12. Joe Well

    The word meritocracy was coined by the sociologist William Dunlop Young as a critique of the rise of the credentialed professionals as a class in postwar society. Sociology has a different political drift than economics, and so the negative connotations of the word would be obvious in that world: except for democracy, any -ocracy (aristocracy, bureaucracy, plutocracy) is bad. They’re all, except for democracy, illegitimate ways of transmitting and legitimizing power.

    So, saying the US has a strong meritocracy is not a compliment in the original sense of the word. Of course, late stage capitalism is having less and less use for the credentialed class, since after a certain point, they’re mostly unproductive dead weight.

    Reply
  13. Arizona Slim

    In a former life, I worked in the fundraising office of a university. I was down toward the bottom end of the totem pole, but, oh, did I see things.

    One fine day, my office mates and I spotted a Very Famous Celebrity in the empty office of one of the managerial types. VFC was looking out the window. He had a great view of the busy boulevard in front of our building, and that was about it. Campus was a bit further south.

    Any-hoo, being the curious types that we were, we asked the Queen Bee of the Administrative Assistants what VFC was doing in our exalted space. She gave us a very stern look and said, “He has BUSINESS here.”

    We never heard any additional scoop, and, believe me, our grapevine was excellent. However, I do remember hearing conversations about gifts that related to admitting some young Johnny or Janey to the university, which, truth be told, isn’t much better than Ole Miss.

    Reply
    1. Polar Donkey

      I have two more Ole Miss stories. It is not uncommon to a freshman female student come to Ole Miss driving a BMW. She drove it though from the trailer her family lives in. Family would scrape together money to get the nice car so that the daughter could go through rush and get in the right sorority and marry the right fraternity brother. Could be a ticket out of poverty for the family. Ole Miss had to change rush from first semester to second semester because if a girl didn’t make it into the right sorority, they had a very high probability of dropping out and going to community college. Which many did.
      The second story is about a black female student at Ole Miss. In 2017, she stumbled by accident upon a google drive document that had copies of professors tests. The page tabs of the document were titled under the names of the founders of white fraternities and sororities. The student told the university about in 2017. As of 2019, the university hadn’t done anything about it. She posted about it on Facebook last week.

      Reply
      1. TedHunter

        @PolarDonkey : I’m a fraud examiner and would love to hear more about the case you mentioned.
        @Yves: Hope I’m not breaking any house rules for asking.

        Reply
  14. ckimball

    What about the damage done to young people who will live the lie perhaps
    for a life time? I fear the stress of identity crisis will affect the possibility of
    identifying the innate unique nature and its value to the individual and to
    everyone.
    But if I was a native father, who was renegade in terms of this system, I might consider paying for entry into the “right”school a matter of survival for
    my two boys.

    Reply
  15. David in Santa Cruz

    The role of sport in elite membership-signaling should not be understated. It is no coincidence that Singer began as an athletic coach. Drunken tailgate parties, season tickets, and endless rounds of golf are talismans of social status more important to client solicitation in legal services and investment advising than are actual professional acumen. For years, my neighbor was convinced that I was sandbagging him, because he couldn’t wrap his head around the notion that I could be a lawyer and had never hit a golf ball.

    As population growth continues unabated, credentials from the “right” college or university have become yet another commodity subject to scarcity and elite hoarding — leading to rationing and the corruption of gate-keepers. Sport has always attracted endorphin-junkies anyway, so it comes as no surprise that the “side-door” was maintained by a former coach.

    Our friend Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times wrote a nice rumination on the corrupting influence of sport on colleges and universities. I believe that his conclusion that sport corrupts should be extrapolated to the realm of professional teams as well — one of the high-fee boondoggles that CalPERS has become enmeshed with is the development of the former Hollywood Park horse-racing track into a gambling den and NFL stadium.

    https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-admissions-scandal-sports-20190313-story.html

    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/columnists/sdut-special-favors-boost-la-nfl-stadium-plan-2015feb07-story.html

    Reply
  16. Knute Rife

    As an aside, I fail to understand how Singer and his co-conspirators didn’t recognize that their activities were hitting the scale where they were sure to be found out.

    Casinos live on people’s inability to get up and walk away from the table. I’ve dealt with a lot of fraudsters, and I have yet to see one with anything that could be called an exit strategy. The game’s the thing, and they have to stay for just one more hand.

    Reply
    1. Fazal Majid

      Singer’s freelance graft for the 1% would prevent universities from extracting eye-watering legalized graft from the 0.01%. That’s why his punishment (and that of the university officials he bribed) must be severe.

      Reply
  17. Savita

    Arizona Slim – why not tell us who the VFC was?
    Australian here – what is ‘Ole Miss’ ?

    Also, what is the significance of Sacramento, as the place the fixer started out?

    I’m not the best person to comment but I’m fairly sure this culture of elite university and status seeking, does not exist in Australia. We have Universities.Some are better than others, some are more exclusive in terms of entrance level. I’m not sure anyone becomes more ‘elite’ or has better access solely on their attendance to one over the other.
    Being to the manor born is probably the only way to assure that

    Tangential point. I read a book some years ago, US-centric, about how going to a prestigious University was probably the worst thing for someone, if they were accepted to a smaller, less well known University as well. The less famous University had many advantages over the Ivy League one. Two reasons stand out in my memory (it was some years ago so I can’t provide title I’m sorry)

    1. Whatever subject or area the student is naturally passionate and talented in, may have that totally destroyed in the competitive culture and high bar for achievement of a prestigious University
    2. With all the added pressure and expectations, a student may simply have far less chance of keeping up, and drop out, whereas a smaller, more local school may not make them such a small fish in such a big pond, and ensure they make it to completion
    The book had lots of personal stories – ‘Rebecca was always curious about science, from childhood.Her dream was to be a scientist and studying that at University was the best possible outcome for her. By second semester at Princeton she couldn’t bear the thought of science any longer and was resigned to a mathematics career’

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      As a fellow Aussie, I think that I can answer two of your questions – I think. I would say that ‘Ole Miss’ refers to the University of Mississippi as in ‘Old Mississippi’. Sacramento is, of course, the lair of CalPERS and in Spanish colonial times was called el-Mordor.

      Reply
  18. cat sick

    In the UK now ( and I would guess the US too ) the devaluation of most education has just reinforced the stats on what you study being much more predictive to earnings than where you study, I doubt any of these bribes are for people to study Mathematics or Physics, maybe some easy Arts / humanities waffle ….

    Reply
  19. kk

    I was invigilating at my University and the MSc in financial analysis students were taking their exam – l would have said that a fairly bright 16 year old with a couple of hours tuition could have passed it. When l said this to the tutor he laughed and agreed ‘and yet’ he said, ‘every one of this lot will get jobs starting at 60 to 80k working in finance’.

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