23-year-old Adam Wheeler got into Harvard with an impressive list of accomplishments. They included a 1600 SAT score, writing books, and speaking four languages, including Old Persian. His impressive resume netted him $45,000 in grants and scholarships.
But it was all a lie. Wheeler had successfully entered and almost graduated Harvard based on fake achievements and forged documents.
When Wheeler applied for a post-graduate scholarship, he thought he could continue to fake and forge his way through. But authorities caught him. WCVB Boston describes the story:
“They discovered during the application process that two letters of recommendation that he submitted for the Rhodes scholarship and the Fulbright scholarship were either altered or forged or changed entirely,” said Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney John Verner.
There were other fabrications on Wheeler’s resume. He said he had attended Phillips Andover Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when in reality he had attended Bowdoin College before being suspended after two years for alleged academic dishonesty. It was at that point, prosecutors said, that he applied to and entered Harvard after inventing a stellar academic career record.
Wheeler was allegedly poised to leave Harvard for Yale University under similar circumstances last fall, when his parents intervened after receiving a call on his application to the New Haven school.
In that application, prosecutors said, Wheeler claimed employment at McLean Hospital. It also included phony recommendations from a hospital employee and his Harvard dean.
Now, Wheeler is facing up to 50 years in prison on 20 counts of larceny and identity fraud. Neither he nor his parents had any comment to make after his arraignment Tuesday, his attorney Steven Sussman saying only that Wheeler would have his day in court.
If anyone needs to keep an eye on this guy, it’s the police. Wheeler would make an excellent organized crime recruit. He’s obviously very good at what he does, and I doubt he’ll stop doing it anytime soon.