This year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions received 18,700 applications from Hoya hopefuls. Out of these, the admissions committee noticed one that was rather unusual.

While reviewing applications for the Class of 2012, an admissions committee member detected a peculiar similarity between the signatures of two recommendations belonging to the same application. The committee contacted the teacher who was supposed to have written one of the letters, which led to the discovery of the application’s fraudulent recommendation.

While initially interested by the student’s high SAT scores and impressive grade report, an investigation brought on by the discovery of the fake signature quickly led admissions officers to realize that these scores and grades were also falsified, according to a report in Business Week.

This is not the first time the admissions office has seen a forged application, though it is rare.

According to Charles Deacon, director of undergraduate admissions, this is one of six fraudulent applications discovered in the past 15 years by the undergraduate admissions committee. Most of the falsified applications were from transfer students.

“Transfers move school to school. We don’t require alumni interviews for them, and they make their own individual applications,” Deacon said.

Deacon said that in dealing with high school seniors, the admissions committee communicates with the applicant, guidance counselors and other people involved in the application more often then they do with transfers, which allows inconsistencies to appear. The committee is constantly on the alert for acts of fraud such as plagiarism and misrepresenting activities. “We review tell-tale clues,” Deacon said.

For the most part, the admissions committee detects fraud based on the general impression of the application.

“All applicants are good students. We look out for the non-traditional student ..someone who’s too good to be true,” Deacon said. “It is a random situation; it is not a trend.”

Other schools, such as Duke University and Yale University, have faced similar problems.

Every year, Duke receives over 20,000 applications, of which only one or two turn out to be fraudulent, said Denise Haviland, director of communications for Duke’s Office of Admissions.

Yale, on the other hand, expelled rising senior Akash Maharaj for application fraud this past summer, according to the Yale Daily News. His application reportedly contained a glowing recommendation from a Slavic-language professor at Colombia and a string of 18 straight A’s for various classes. Yale prosecuted him for $31,000 in financial aid compensation.

While Georgetown has never convicted an accepted student of application fraud, Deacon said that if they discovered a falsified application from an already matriculated student, the course of action would be similar to Yale’s response – to invalidate everything.

Deacon explained that the issue was not that a student committing fraud would not be able to do the work, but rather that it would deprive someone else of a spot.

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