A former University of Southern California admissions official agreed to plead guilty on wire fraud charges in a scheme to get some USC graduate school admissions slots for students in exchange for thousands of dollars.
What’s going on:
- According to the Department of Justice, Hiu Kit David Chong admitted that he helped put false college transcripts into admission packets for students.
- The faked college transcripts included “inflated grades, phony letters of recommendation and fraudulent personal statements,” according to the DOJ.
- Chong pleaded guilty on one count of criminal information that charged him with wire fraud. He will appear before a court at a future date.
- Chong solicited and received payments from international students and others who worked on behalf of students who wouldn’t normally qualify for admission to USC, according to the Department of Justice.
- The payments ranged from $8,000 to $12,000.
- According to the DOJ, Chong bought the college transcripts that were believed to be from a Chinese university. He asked the supplier to inflate the grade point averages on the transcripts.
- Chong admitted that he pushed the documents into the application packets, which included “fraudulent letters of recommendation and fabricated personal statements purportedly written by the applicants.”
- Chong admitted he sought surrogate test takers for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which USC will consider when choosing students, according to the Department of Justice.
- Three students gained admission to USC thanks to Chong, he told the DOJ. He was paid $38,000 total for his efforts. He may have received other payments, which would bring the total closer to $40,000.
- He will face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.