Watch CBS News

Mother Who Paid $6.5M To College Admissions Scammer Says She Was Duped

STANFORD (KPIX) — The widening fallout from the federal investigation into the college admissions cheating scandal has ensnared a sophomore at Stanford University whose parents are alleged to have paid $6.5 million to improve their daughter's odds of being accepted into the elite university.

"I'm going to Stanford for undergraduate and  I'm really looking forward to it," said former Stanford student Yusi Zhao in a video posted to her YouTube account in the summer of 2017.


Through her attorney, Zhao's mother says she was duped into paying the seven-figure payment to Rick Singer, the alleged mastermind of the college admissions scheme. The attorney says his client believed the money would be used for scholarships and teacher salaries.

"It's broken. And we know it's broken and for that reason we have to face that stuff like this happens. And does it make it hard for people who truly deserve to get in? Yes." said Savina Hawkins, a recent Stanford graduate.

Hawkins says she was disappointed but not surprised that wealthy and well-connected parents had tried to game the system.

"Privilege is the thing that undermines the meritocratic system that we've set up. And it's very disappointing that people who deserve a seat at the table don't have one. And that those voices are never heard," Hawkins said.

A spokesperson for the university said they received $750,000 from Singer's company on behalf of three applicants. The spokesperson said only one those applicants, identified at Zhao by her mother's attorney, was actually admitted to the university.

In a prepared statement, the spokesperson said, "material in the student's application to Stanford was false," adding that the university had "rescinded the admission" effectively expelling Zhao and invalidating her two years worth of course work.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.