This scam was ABSOLUTELY NOT the same as we've seen before. Let me explain.
1. The typical way to get into a premier university is what we will call the FRONT DOOR. You write the SAT, get a great score, take the interview, ace that, pay full tuition, and you walk in. Alternatively you could be a great athlete and get partially or fully comped your tuition. Also you go in the front door.
2. The BACK DOOR has been around forever . Someone of considerable financial influence, a rich benefactor, makes a sizeable donation to the school in question years in advance. Say I donate 25 million today towards a new library at Harvard. My son is only a kid right now, but years later, he will apply to Harvard and not mysteriously he will be accepted in. That is the BACK DOOR and has been around for years.
What these fuckers figured out was a couple SIDE DOORS.
3. SIDE DOOR #1 was to get a doctor (on the scammer's payroll) to identify the applicant as special needs. The applicant then takes the SAT and the test goes to a proctor. The proctor is also on the payroll. The proctor grades the paper and gives the kid a flying score. The kid then goes to the interview, the interviewers, some of them are on the payroll too. Boom, kid is into school of choice.
4. SIDE DOOR #2 was to take the head of the applicant and photoshop it onto the body of an athlete, then submit that. For example, Olivia Jade used both SIDE DOOR #1 AND #2 to get in. They photoshopped her head onto a rower's body. There was another example of a girl who was 5'1" who was photoshopped onto a basketball players body. In both cases, the applicants were accepted into the school on an athletic scholarship. They were also told that just prior to for example rowing season, she would mysteriously get a broken arm and be unable to row. That way she wouldn't have to go to practice or competitions, and the rowing coach (also on the payroll) could just fake the papers.
Who was on the payroll? Dozens of people. Volleyball coaches, rowing coaches, proctors, admissions people, list goes on. The list had 50 people on it to begin with.
The scam was even more clever because the money was LAUNDERED. Money from Aunt Becky never went directly to the dirty proctors or rowing coaches. Instead it went to a CHARITY which was a front for all this, and one guy took the money, kept some for himself, and used the rest to grease the correct people. He even issued charitable donation tax receipts. It was brilliant.
The problem was there was too many moving parts, and somebody fucked up.
So no this scam had NOT been going on for years. This one was a doozy. And it's totally unfair that these fucking bored rich kids got into prestigious schools while some kid in the ghetto who worked her ass off got denied.