News

Alleged scammer admitted to Stanford

Decision rescinded after officials learn applicant was tossed from Harvard for faking records

A man was admitted to Stanford University recently after being kicked out of Harvard University when officials there accused him of faking his academic record, the Boston Globe reported.

Adam Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was indicted last month on charges of larceny and identity fraud. Prosecutors said he received more than $45,000 in Harvard financial aid, prizes and grants based on lies.

Wheeler was a Harvard senior and applying for a Rhodes Scholarship when he was dismissed from the school in October 2009 after a faculty member became suspicious that his work too closely matched something he had seen before.

Later prosecutors said they discovered Wheeler had faked his way into Harvard with false transcripts, recommendations and SAT scores.

After being tossed from Harvard, Wheeler apparently applied to transfer to several other elite universities, and his application to Stanford was successful -- for a time.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

In documents filed in Wheeler's case in Middlesex Superior Court Massachusetts, prosecutors said Wheeler had been admitted to Stanford as a transfer student.

Prosecutors said they were told by Dean of Undergraduate Admission Richard Shaw that Wheeler had applied and was admitted as a transfer student junior for the 2010-2011 school year, the Globe reported.

Stanford has since rescinded the offer, the Globe said.

During the same period Wheeler allegedly submitted falsified transfer applications to other schools, including Brown University and Yale University.

Wheeler's departure from Harvard prompted investigators to examine his initial application as a transfer student to the school.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

He had claimed to be a graduate of Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and a transfer applicant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, producing what appeared to be transcripts from both schools, the Harvard Crimson reported.

However, he had attended neither institution.

Wheeler actually went to high school in Delaware and had been a sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine. The recommendations he submitted to Harvard and said were from MIT professors were actually the names of Bowdoin professors -- but none of them said they had written the recommendations, the Crimson reported.

Wheeler allegedly claimed to have perfect 1600 SAT scores in his Harvard application when in fact he received scores of 1160 and 1220, the Crimson said.

As an English major at Harvard, he received the Hoopes Prize in the spring of 2009 for a project completed during his junior year. The published copy of that project has been removed from the Harvard library system, the Crimson reported.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Alleged scammer admitted to Stanford

Decision rescinded after officials learn applicant was tossed from Harvard for faking records

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 9, 2010, 11:29 am

A man was admitted to Stanford University recently after being kicked out of Harvard University when officials there accused him of faking his academic record, the Boston Globe reported.

Adam Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was indicted last month on charges of larceny and identity fraud. Prosecutors said he received more than $45,000 in Harvard financial aid, prizes and grants based on lies.

Wheeler was a Harvard senior and applying for a Rhodes Scholarship when he was dismissed from the school in October 2009 after a faculty member became suspicious that his work too closely matched something he had seen before.

Later prosecutors said they discovered Wheeler had faked his way into Harvard with false transcripts, recommendations and SAT scores.

After being tossed from Harvard, Wheeler apparently applied to transfer to several other elite universities, and his application to Stanford was successful -- for a time.

In documents filed in Wheeler's case in Middlesex Superior Court Massachusetts, prosecutors said Wheeler had been admitted to Stanford as a transfer student.

Prosecutors said they were told by Dean of Undergraduate Admission Richard Shaw that Wheeler had applied and was admitted as a transfer student junior for the 2010-2011 school year, the Globe reported.

Stanford has since rescinded the offer, the Globe said.

During the same period Wheeler allegedly submitted falsified transfer applications to other schools, including Brown University and Yale University.

Wheeler's departure from Harvard prompted investigators to examine his initial application as a transfer student to the school.

He had claimed to be a graduate of Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and a transfer applicant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, producing what appeared to be transcripts from both schools, the Harvard Crimson reported.

However, he had attended neither institution.

Wheeler actually went to high school in Delaware and had been a sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine. The recommendations he submitted to Harvard and said were from MIT professors were actually the names of Bowdoin professors -- but none of them said they had written the recommendations, the Crimson reported.

Wheeler allegedly claimed to have perfect 1600 SAT scores in his Harvard application when in fact he received scores of 1160 and 1220, the Crimson said.

As an English major at Harvard, he received the Hoopes Prize in the spring of 2009 for a project completed during his junior year. The published copy of that project has been removed from the Harvard library system, the Crimson reported.

Comments

Manymore
Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm
Manymore, Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm

He's not the only fraud to get into places like Stanford...I mean, just look at the rich + alum kids who get in, kids who would otherwise go to UC Davis if it weren't for their parents' money and connections. That's not fraud?


Manymanymore
Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm
Manymanymore, Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm

and professors' kids and athletes.


even more
Charleston Gardens
on Jun 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm
even more, Charleston Gardens
on Jun 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm

And kids born so smart they don't have to do anything to get A's and great test scores.


Manymanymanymore
Fairmeadow
on Jun 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm
Manymanymanymore, Fairmeadow
on Jun 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Yes, some smart people go to Stanford...but the most amazing people from my school went to places like Caltech, Berkeley, etc. These were the kids who got As without trying and aced tests. The Stanford kids had other things (think distinguished parents, money, unique backgrounds). Not to say there aren't a lot of smart people at Stanford, but a lot of Stanford admits are not as amazing as you would think.


Old Palo Alto
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm
Old Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm

I think this is a bigger indictment of Stanford and Harvard, in that they admit candidates that tell them what they want to hear. The trick to getting in is figuring out what the admissions committee want to hear and feeding it to the them.


former PALY parent
Palo Alto High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:01 am
former PALY parent, Palo Alto High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:01 am

If you are interested, this young man has been discussed a lot on a thread dedicated to the main story on College Confidential - a great website.
The Stanford angle is a relevation, I believe. I don't recall hearing about that before!
Aside from noting this guy's incredible cunning, people have puzzled over how he could forge and mail transcripts, which are supposed to be sealed and sent directly from prior educational institution when you apply to Harvard, Stanford, whatever. Apparently he got a lot past various Admissions offices - not a lot of checking was done and he took a place from a deserving applicant at Harvard....


Stanford Overrated
Stanford
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:32 am
Stanford Overrated, Stanford
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

... The trick to getting in is figuring out what the admissions committee want to hear and feeding it to the them.

Exactly - the old truth garbage in garbage out.


How rude
Stanford
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:41 am
How rude, Stanford
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:41 am


Stanford is not filled with rich kids.... because of the very generous financial aid packages the student population at Stanford has many more kids from low-income or mid-income familes than a place like Cal or UCLA. And to say they aren't smart, just connected, is insulting and petty.

Come on Palo Alto.... cut the cynicism!


wow
Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:57 am
wow, Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:57 am

He got 1160 and 1220 on his SATS.

So how not-smart is he? He was smart enough to figure out how to get admitted to both Harvard and Stanford, something a lot of kids with perfect 1600s weren't smart enough to do.

This guy would be a terrific asset to the fraud unit of the FBI or related law-enforcement agency. Reminds me of Frank Abagnale, Jr depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in movie called Catch Me If You Can.


Amused
Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Amused, Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm

"And kids born so smart they don't have to do anything to get A's and great test scores."

I'm hoping this is a joke (if it is, pat yourself on the back for being sarcastic enough to fool us); surely you don't mean to suggest that people born smarter than others should face handicaps in the college admissions process? That's like affirmative action for stupid people.

It sounds like the first few posters are just bitter that, after being spoiled and raised by parents who showered them with praise, are finally being told by the world that they're not quite as special as Mommy and Daddy said they were. Falling into a rut of denial, excuses, and complaining when facing a reality check is a telling mark of the petty man.


Palo Alto Student
Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm
Palo Alto Student, Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

I know quite a few students from Palo Alto schools, with connections to Stanford faculty or staff and are quite smart, but weren't accepted to Stanford. Just because your dad is a professor doesn't mean you get a automatic admission.


Huh?
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm
Huh?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm

How did he do it? How can one fake SAT scores? Aren't they sent from the College Board? I am flabbergasted that these reputable colleges do not check references! How did he fake the Phillips-Andover transcript?


hardtobelieve
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2010 at 9:10 am
hardtobelieve, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2010 at 9:10 am

A score of 1220 would have to be from several years ago because the SAT's changed; it's now top score 2400 not 1600 as it was in the past. And a 1220 is ok but not the typical 1350-1400's that top applicants for Stanford would have had when the SAT's top score was 1600. And, sounds really odd that he could have faked so many doc's that should come right from the institutions themselves.


danny
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm
danny, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Palo Alto online has my permission to post this, but only in its entirety.

It is interesting how history repeats itself - we had James Hogue in the early 90's who fibbed himself into Palo Alto High School and then at Princeton. In the 70s there was Patrick McDermitt ("Andreas Alrea") who did it at Yale - there have been a few others in this decade who got into Yale and Stanford... there was Baughman who pretended to be a Stanford graduate while serving as Santa Clara County Superintendent of Public Instruction... There was another guy who lied about his bar admission and landed himself a high paying job in Palo Alto at Morrison Forster... he was good on the job but was busted for it just because of his background.

We have been doomed to repeat the history of people doing this because we haven't learned the lessons of history that the academic system, whatever else it is worth, has created a modern-day caste system in our society. People like Wheeler, Hogue, and the others are merely the writing on the wall. It even makes me think about what our recent "free elections" were all about.

Here is a piece I wrote about Hogue in 1992. Web Link


A Reader
another community
on Jun 13, 2010 at 10:27 am
A Reader, another community
on Jun 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

Yeah, yeah, Stanford is filled with entitled, connected, undeserving students--just like Harvard. Yawn. This kind of envy-based bashing is the inevitable result of Stanford's meteoric rise in prominence and prestige; it comes with the territory and only reveals the petty insecurities of those on the outside looking in.


Manymanymore
Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm
Manymanymore, Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

"ust because your dad is a professor doesn't mean you get a automatic admission."

You missed the point. The admissions process is not based on academic. Your chances of admission get a big boost if your parents are professors, if your parents went to stanford, if you are rich, if you played football well in high school, etc.


palo alto mom
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm
palo alto mom, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

"Your chances of admission get a big boost if your parents are professors, if your parents went to stanford, if you are rich, if you played football well in high school, etc.?"

How does this make Stanford any different from other colleges? You can put almost any school's name in the place of "Stanford"...


Manymanymore
Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm
Manymanymore, Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm

"How does this make Stanford any different from other colleges?"

You aren't going to get a boost getting into the UCs for any of those reasons (except athletics). But you're right: Harvard, Yale, etc. are just as bad and probably worse.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.