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College admissions scandal rocks the nation

"Cheating on college entrance exams" seems like something that would involve some misguided teenagers and end in an expulsion or two -- not the sort of thing that catches dozens of high-profile adults across the nation in a net of charges that range from bribery to fraud.

Yet, that's exactly what happened. Approximately 50 people were investigated (and ultimately arrested) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through what was known as "Operation Varsity Blues." In the end, 33 parents (many of them celebrities, company executives and doctors), a college administrator, nine coaches from various universities, two entrance-exam administrators and one exam proctor were arrested.

The whole operation was organized by a single man -- who apparently made around $25 million guaranteeing rich people that their kids would get a spot in a prestigious school -- whether they earned it or not. He's already been charged with racketeering, conspiracy, money-laundering and obstruction of justice, among other things. His tactics ranged from sending in a shill to take a student's ACT or SAT college entrance exams to editing pictures of non-athletic students doing athletic-looking things and then bribing coaches to recruit them for their schools in order to get them admitted.

This scandal is still unfolding and the number of victims is hard to count. In many cases, the colleges and universities were victims of the greed of just one or two employees. There are also plenty of students who have been victimized. Some of those victims are the students who were unwitting participants in their parents' schemes (and there were a few) -- but there's also an untold number of students who lost out on the admissions they might have rightfully earned because someone else bribed their way into that slot.

While there's no doubt that the parents were acting out of a desire to see their children succeed, what they did was illegal. Cheating on a test and padding a college application probably didn't seem like a big deal -- except that also indirectly means they cheated and defrauded the government as well, as universities receive government funding.That makes this entire debacle a very big deal, indeed.

If you've made a similar mistake, don't wait to get help. A white collar criminal attorney can help you understand the charges against you and your options to resolve them.

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