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What Type of Parent Commits Fraud to Get Their Kid into College?

"F the system — don't you know who I am?" is the basic thought process in the college admissions scam, apparently.

Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin made headlines after allegedly being caught up in the biggest college admissions scandal the FBI has ever prosecuted. Dozens of high-powered executives also allegedly took part in the scheme, paying six figure sums to a middle man to bribe their kids into Ivy League schools and prestigious universities like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.

A Newport Beach, California, man was paid to alter SAT scores, Photoshop the kids onto stock athlete photos to make it seem like they excelled at a sport, and bribe coaches to prioritize their applications with admissions officers.

Loughlin and Huffman have been taken into custody in Los Angeles for taking part in the scheme. "We're talking about deception and fraud — fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials," Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference Tuesday, according to CNN.

What kind of parent wants their kid to get ahead using bribery and lies? According to U.S. attorney Lelling, "These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege … They include, for example, CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm."

He added that while these were parents who could give their kids "every legitimate advantage," they instead "chose to corrupt and illegally manipulate the system for their benefit.” "There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy," he added. "And there will not be a separate criminal justice system either."

A total of 50 people have been charged so far.

New York-based psychotherapist Dr. Michael DeMarco told Personal Space these types of desperate parents usually start realizing “my kid is clearly not going to make it in this world based on their own mediocre merits” and it spirals from there.

“[They think] if my kid doesn't go on to further my brand in a positive way, people will think I am an awful parent, and if I don't have the validation, then who am I, really? They can't stand the thought of their kid having anything but the best, so I must do whatever I can to make sure they are set for life… and if money (which has flowed pretty easily in my direction) can help do that — then I had better find someone to pay so I/my kid can get ahead,” he explained. “They might also be thinking something like ‘F the system — don't you know who I am? Let the plebes worry about things like SAT scores and entrance interviews, I’m VIP!’ Finally, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.”

But people don't just wake up committing crimes, he added. “You reach a conclusion, based on the story in your head, meaning you have real emotional experiences and real behavioral reactions based on those thoughts. You don't have to approve, or agree, or even understand, but we feel and behave as a result of the map of thoughts going on in our heads (and in this case apparently a lot of people told themselves similar stories.)”

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