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Harvard Outsmarted: Student Adam Wheeler Was Admitted on Lies, Stole $45K Say Prosecutors

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WOBURN, Massachusetts (CBS/AP) Veritas -- that is to say, truth -- was the last thing on the mind of a Delaware man who allegedly faked his way into Harvard and duped the Ivy League school out of $45,000 in financial aid, grants and scholarships.

Adam Wheeler, 23, was admitted to Harvard and became a student in 2007 after he falsely claimed he had a perfect academic record at Phillips Academy in Andover and had studied for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, prosecutors said Monday.

Ultimately, authorities said, Wheeler's attempts to be an overachiever were his undoing: Harvard started to look into Wheeler's background after he sought the school's endorsement for prestigious Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.

A professor reviewing his application noticed similarities between Wheeler's writing and that of a colleague, prosecutors said. Wheeler was indicted on 20 offenses, including larceny, identity fraud and pretending to hold a degree.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. Wheeler, who was studying English, was trying to transfer to Yale and Brown when he got caught in the "web of lies and deceit," District Attorney Gerry Leone said.

"This defendant's actions cheated those who competed honestly and fairly for admissions and for the scholarships that this defendant fraudulently obtained," Leone said.

Harvard released a statement saying it could not discuss individual cases because of federal privacy laws and referred all questions to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.

Before attending Harvard, Wheeler was a student at Bowdoin College in Maine from 2005-07, but was suspended for academic dishonesty, authorities said.


  • Barry Leibowitz

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