Students Denied Admission File Class Action Relating to College Admission Scandal

March 27, 2019 by

A group of parents and current university students filed a proposed class action lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California against the perpetrators of recent elite college admission cheating scandals. The complaint also names several of the involved schools as defendants.

The plaintiffs allege that as a result of the two fraudulent college admission schemes, unqualified students were unfairly accepted to highly selective universities, while students who had higher test scores and more impressive athletic records were denied admission. The suit claims that the plan was executed by the defendant Rick Singer, the CEO of a self-described college-admissions-mentoring company for wealthy parents, and the individuals involved in the college admission pipeline at the defendant universities, whose duty it was to oversee the college admission process.

The first of the two fraudulent schemes in question is the “testing cheating” scam, in which wealthy parents paid large sums of money—typically between $15,000 and $75,000 per test —to Singer, his business or his charitable entity, The Key Worldwide Foundation, in exchange for someone more qualified to take the SAT or ACT exam for the student. The stand-in was able to take the exam due to bribes Singer allegedly paid to an SAT test administrator in Los Angeles, California of $10,000 for each fraudulent test he proctored, as well as a payment of $5,000 to a test administrator in Houston, Texas for one particular test. The individuals selected to complete the exams were paid around $10,000 per test taken.

The second scheme involved is the “student-athlete recruitment” scam, in which parents of college-bound students would pay Singer, to create elaborate illegitimate sports profiles for students therefore creating the illusion that the student was a top sports recruit. Singer would then go on to bribe university officials, including coaches and athletic department managers to recruit said students. Under most standard college admissions policies, a certain number of incoming student slots were reserved for students who excelled in athletics.

Highly qualified student-plaintiffs in the case were all rejected from one or more of the defendant universities, alleging that, at a minimum, they paid college admission application fees to the defendant universities without any warning that unqualified students were bypassing the admission process by committing fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty. Involved universities include: University of Southern California (“USC”), Stanford University, University of San Diego (“USD”), The University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Yale University and Georgetown University.

The suit brings causes of action for violations of RICO, 18 U.S.C. §1962 (c), violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, violation of the California Unfair Competition Law and claims of negligence against the university defendants.


This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.

Sign up to receive Class Actions Blog posts in your inbox!


Steve Larson
An experienced trial lawyer who handles both hourly and contingent fee cases, Steve has expertise in class actions, consumer cases, antitrust litigation, securities litigation, corporate disputes, intellectual property disputes, unfair competition claims, employment matters, and disputes involving family wealth. Steve regularly represents individuals and businesses in federal and state court and has obtained class-wide recovery in multiple class actions. A veteran practitioner, Steve's clients value his creative approach to resolving complex litigation matters.

Legal Disclaimer

The information contained in this blog does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this blog.