March 25, 2002

Fraudulent Application Discovered

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Cornell’s “open doors” closed for a senior at the Culver City High School in Culver City, Calif., on March 13, as the admissions office for the College of Engineering reported the applicant to Cornell Police for submitting a forged application.

The student whose name remains undisclosed, a young male, sent an application to the College of Engineering “and in reviewing his documents, the admissions officers discovered that some of the material had been altered” said Linda Grace-Kobas, director of Cornell News Service.

Forged Signature

In the complaint recorded by Investigator Scott Hamilton of Cornell Police, the admission officers noted that the high school guidance counselor’s signature was forged on the application. In addition to this, the submitted transcript was also forged.

“When [admissions officers] called the high school, what [the student] sent in his application form and what was on record at his high school did not match,” Grace-Kobas said.

The incident was then reported to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for consultation, to decide what measures should be taken against the high school senior.

Officials Notified

Although mail fraud is a punishable offense by federal law, Cornell officials did not punish the student, other then denying him admission and notifying the high school and the proper California officials of the incident.

“What the student had done is considered mail fraud, but because there was no monetary loss by the University, the attorney’s office decided not to prosecute the case and leave it up to the high school,” Grace-Kobas said. “He’s a high school student and we haven’t arrested him or anything — we just rejected him.”

Last November, there was a similar incident which involved a Cornell senior in the College of Engineering, Junaid Ahmed. In this case, the student was arrested for fraud and charged with 13 counts of federal indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“He did the same thing,” Grace-Kobas said. “He submitted false records in his admissions application as a high school senior, but because he also received financial aid, he was arrested.”

The falsification was discovered in Ahmed’s application to graduate school.

The recent mail fraud case involving the student from California was not quiet as severe, but this will remain on the student’s record.

Several students commented on the high school senior’s falsification of his application.

“He jeopardized his future and for what?” said Janet Lin ’04.

“People who have to lie and cheat their way into a school certainly don’t belong there,” Jaka Skrlj ’03 said. “One gets accepted into a school like Cornell due to one’s hard work and intelligence. That’s how I got here. Anyone trying to do it in an easier way deserves the worst they can give him or her.”

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya