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Wed Mar 13, 2019, 09:39 PM

Who Is Rick Singer, the Mastermind Behind the College Admissions Scam?

Other than Aunt Becky and Lynette Scavo, perhaps the most compelling figure at the center of the college admissions scam is William “Rick” Singer, its mastermind. On March 12th, Singer, 58, pleaded guilty to money laundering, racketeering, obstruction of justice and tax evasion for his role in the scheme, which allegedly involved bribing coaches and paying off SAT exam proctors to get wealthy teenagers seats at top-tier universities. But who is William “Rick” Singer, and how, exactly, did he leverage his extensive network of college administrators and coaches to cater to his wealthy clientele? Here’s what we know about him.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Singer is that he has been a visible figure in the college admissions community for quite some time. He is the founder and CEO of the company the Key, a “Private Life Coaching and College Counseling Company,” according to the website. The Key catered to wealthy families trying to get their children into college, per its website: “the Key’s clientele is all referral based; consequently, the quality of the service provided to many of the world’s most renown [sic] families and individuals has provided an incredible foundation for The Key to grow its offerings worldwide.” (A request for comment went unreturned at press time.)

But Singer wasn’t always in the college admissions prep world. According to a 2005 profile in the Sacramento Business Journal, Singer is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, who claims to have a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in business and organizational management. He coached high school sports for a while before transitioning, in 1992, to his first venture in the world of college admissions counseling, Future Stars College & Career Counseling. He later sold the company (which appears to still be active today), telling the Business Journal that “he was better at coaching than running a business,” and accepted a senior executive role at the Money Store, a mortgage company that was then a subsidiary of First Union Bank (now Wells Fargo).

After taking leadership roles at various other corporations, Singer apparently decided that he was, in fact, better suited for a career in business than he originally thought. In 2004, with the help of private investors and an advisory board featuring prominent higher education figures like then-Occidental College president Ted Mitchell, Singer launched the counseling service the CollegeSource before starting the Edge College & Career Network (also known as the Key) in 2007. (Mitchell is no longer involved with the company; In a recent statement, he decried the scheme. “This alleged behavior is antithetical to the core values of our institutions, defrauds students and families and has absolutely no place in American higher education,” he said.)



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