Former USC Admissions Official Will Plead Guilty to Running Fraudulent Scheme to Admit Unqualified International Students

            Hiu Kit David Chong, a  35 year old former University of Southern California admissions official will plead guilty to a wire fraud charge in a scheme to obtain USC graduate school admission slots for unqualified international students in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash. Hiu Kit David Chong admitted that he caused false college transcripts with inflated grades, phony letters of recommendation and fraudulent personal statements to be placed in the students’ admissions packets. Chong pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging him with wire fraud. 

              Chong, who was an assistant director in USC’s Office of Graduate Admissions from September 2008 to March 2016, told Chinese nationals that he could help them  get admitted into a USC graduate degree program.  To do so, he founded and ran the now-defunct Monterey Park-based academic consulting company, So Cal International Group, Inc. From February 2015 to December 2018, Chong asked for and got payments, from $8,000 to $12,000, from unqualified international students or others acting on  the unqualified students behalf. 

Chong bought phony college transcripts purporting to be from Chinese universities and instructed his supplier to create transcripts to show falsely inflated grade point averages. Chong submitted the phony documents in the international students’ USC application packets, including fake letters of recommendation and fabricated personal statements purportedly written by the applicants.Chong also offered to research how to arrange for a surrogate test taker to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the results of which USC would consider when making decisions regarding admissions applications. Chong admitted that he hid, from the university, that the applicants paid him to facilitate their admission.

            Chong helped three unqualified international students get admitted to USC using fraudulent application materials. Chong got paid $38,000 from international students and people he believed were working with international students, including an undercover law enforcement official. He also got payments from other international students as part of the scheme, resulting in his ill-gotten gains of approximately $40,000.

            When Chong enters his guilty plea, he will face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

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