In the end, Adam Wheeler, a 24-year-old who conned his way into Harvard and benefited from more than $40,000 (£26,000) in grants and prizes, flew too close to the sun. Not content with having bragged his way into one of the world's most prestigious universities, he felt driven to apply – equally fraudulently – for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships. The application was a deception too far, and led to the discovery of a string of lies that this week earned Wheeler 10 years on probation and the order to repay Harvard $45,806. He pleaded guilty to all 20 counts against him, including larceny, identity fraud and pretending to hold a degree.
"I'm ashamed and embarrassed by what I've done," he told a Massachusetts court in a voice so quiet it was barely above a whisper. "As much as possible, I want to put this behind me and move forward."
Wheeler's impressive record of deceit began in 2007 when he was expelled from Bowdoin College in Maine for plagiarism. Instead of reflecting on the wrong he had done, he went the other direction, developing a whole new persona and turning lying into an art form.
His successful Harvard application claimed that he had graduated from the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts – in fact he had gone to a state high school in Delaware – and had an impeccable record of academic excellence at MIT. Once having fraudulently gained entry to America's most revered ivory tower, he pursued his fabrications with what prosecutors told the court was compulsive zeal.
As the Harvard Crimson newspaper identified, he created a resume that boasted the authorship of two books and co-authorship of four others, the delivery of lectures in Armenian studies and unblemished grades – all of it hogwash. He also won the $4,000 Hoopes Prize, $2,000 Sargent Prize and an $8,000 Rockefeller research grant, all through plagiarism.
via The Guardian.