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Students and parents file lawsuit in college admissions scam asking for application fees back

A group of students and their parents are seeking a class action lawsuit against the...

Posted: Jun 19, 2019 4:32 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2019 11:15 PM

A group of students and their parents are seeking a class action lawsuit against the criminal mastermind in the college admissions scam and the universities named in the scandal, specifically calling for their college application fees back.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in the Northern District of California, accuses William 'Rick' Singer of carrying out a criminal scheme that helped less-qualified students gain admission into these universities.

'As a result of this coordinated, fraudulent scheme, conducted through wire and mail, unqualified students found their way into the admissions rolls of highly selective universities, while those students who played by the rules were denied admission,' the suit said.

The lawsuit also accuses the universities involved in the case of negligence for failing to maintain protocols and security measures to prevent such fraud.

'Each of the universities took the students' admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty,' the lawsuit said.

The suit comes months after prosecutors revealed the sprawling criminal scheme to game the competitive college admissions system. Fifty people, including 33 parents, were arrested and accused of conspiracy in a case in which the parents allegedly used their wealth to cheat on standardized tests and bribe college coaches.

Fourteen of those parents have agreed to plead guilty, while another 19, including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, are fighting the charges.

The lawsuit filed last week specifically targets Singer, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He is due to be sentenced in September.

In addition, the suit targets eight universities named in the case: the University of Southern California, Stanford University, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Yale University, Georgetown University and UCLA. In the criminal case, these universities are considered to be the victims of the fraud conspiracy.

Years of applicants

The class action suit would include everyone who applied to the eight universities between 2012 to 2018, the lawsuit states.

'The students who filed the complaint didn't receive what they paid for—to participate in an application process free of fraud,' David Cialkowski, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said in an email.

'It's a straightforward claim and a simple remedy. The students want their money back. They request that anyone who paid an application fee to any of the eight named universities but was denied admission gets their application fee returned.'

Georgetown said it doesn't comment on pending litigation but added the university 'takes seriously the integrity of our admissions and is committed to a fair, holistic process whereby each application is carefully reviewed. We review all applicants without consideration of a family's financial consideration or ability to pay,' according to a university representative.

USC said in a statement that it is reviewing the lawsuit in detail.

'The university is conducting a full review of the matter and continues to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department's investigation. We will take all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with our values,' the university said.

CNN has reached out to Singer's attorney for comment.

A similar lawsuit was filed in March shortly after the scam was made public.

'Had Plaintiffs known that the system was warped and rigged by fraud, they would not have spent the money to apply to the school,' that lawsuit said. 'They also did not receive what they paid for -- a fair admissions consideration process.'

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