In 2011 a 24-year-old man pled guilty to falsifying his application to Harvard University, bilking the world's most prestigious university out of more than $45,000 in prizes and scholarships. Using forged SAT scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, Adam Wheeler outsmarted Harvard's admissions office and then went even further. Once accepted into the Ivy League he kept lying, cheating, and succeeding, winning thousands of dollars in prizes and grants. But then he shot too far. During his senior year, Wheeler applied for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, a gamble that finally exposed his extensive tangle of lies. Alerted that he was under suspicion, Wheeler fled Harvard but did not stop. He successfully filed more fraudulent applications at top-tier schools across the country, until some vigilant admissions officers, Massachusetts police, and even his own parents forced him off his computer and into court. As reporters for The Harvard Crimson, Julie Zauzmer and Xi Yu covered the case from the moment the news of Wheeler's indictment broke. In the course of their reporting, they interviewed dozens of friends, roommates, teachers, and advisors who knew Wheeler at the many phases of his suspect academic career. Their fascinating account reveals how one serial scammer took on the competitive world of the Ivy Leagueand almost won.
The True Story of the Con Artist Who Faked His Way into the Ivy League