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May 18, 2010

Adam Wheeler, Harvard faker, headed for book deal?

adam wheeler harvard

If fact is stranger than fiction, than fictional fact is even stranger. Just consider Adam Wheeler, the kid accused of lying and forging documents to gain entry into Harvard -- and duping the school out of $45,000 in financial aid. Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was ordered held on $5,000 bail Tuesday after pleading not guilty to 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud and other charges, the Associated Press reported.

So how long will it be before a book by or about Wheeler hits the stores? Faking SAT scores isn't very exotic. But who wouldn't want to read about a kid who had the chutzpah to claim he prepped at Andover and attended MIT, when he actually graduated from Caesar Rodney High Kent County, Del., and attended Bowdoin College. I bet a couple of dozen agents and ghost writers are lining up right now for a piece of the action. Far-fetched? Remember, it worked for Stephen Glass, the young New Republic reporter who was discovered to have fabricated stories; he turned his tale into a book and movie.

Wait! Forget the Wheeler book -- let's start talking about a screenplay. I'm thinking an academic version of "To Catch a Thief." And maybe we get Ryan O'Neal to do a cameo as an outraged alum named Oliver Barrett IV. So who plays Wheeler on the big screen?

Now that would be stranger than fiction.

Posted by Dave Rosenthal at 6:20 PM | | Comments (7)


How do you check into someones credentials? How do you check a person's record if they say they have a degree or Master's or PhD?

People always put their accomplishments on their resume but how do you verify them?

This is the first time that I've heard of identity fraud. There was a case in Canada recently (within the last year), where Dr. Charles Smith - once considered a renowned pathologist - was found to be a complete fraud. Thirteen people were wrongly convicted for killing children based on his testimony:

As John said, it really does beg the question, how can people verify the credentials of professionals. I have an MA, and if that were called into question, it would be quite insulting, but is that the way we're headed?

I could totally see this as a new To Catch A Thief screenplay / movie, though I wonder if it would be really banal. It would probably be more like a true crime novel in which the cover suggests there will be "shocking" information and photos about Adam Wheeler, but in reality, they are only highschool yearbook images and pictures of the house he grew up in.

not sure if you guys know this, but anyone who applies to work at a large investment bank or large law firm goes through a very extensive background check, which includes the firm sometimes checking your records all the way back to high school.

so firms go about obtaining proof of applicants' HS, Undergrad, Graduate or PhD diploma credentials on a regular basis.

You have the person you are checking out sign a release which permits you to contact the university. You provide provide the release to the univerity and ask the registrar to verify what degree, if any, the person received and assuming that the release provides for it, ask for a copy of the person's transcript.

After that movie we need a sequel "To Catch a Fake Expert Witness". Only after Dr. Charles Smith ruined lots of lives in Canada did he finally confess to being "woefully inept" and no expert at all. That said - he was a piker compared to fake experts in our civil litigation context. A current example involves Dr. Carter who proffered a ton of unchallenged, unqualified "expert" psychological testimony in the Ontario child custody context. Lawyers and judges allowed Carter to taint God knows how many cases. Not until the grandfather of a child affected by Carter's bogus expertise decided to call his lisencing body and check him out did the leagle beagles become aware Carter was unqualified. This despite the fact that anybody could have called the College of Psychologists of Ontario and asked if Carter was qualified - or could have gone on-line and checked his CPO membership profile where his practice restrictions are clearly posted. In a recent Toronto Sun column one lawyer said that checking the qualifications of expert medicolegal witnesses is a complex "art" and said lawyers aren't well trained in this. What?? A toll free call to a medicolegal expert's lisencing body is an art? And in a legal column another lawyer rambled on about how she thoroughly checks the "expert's" resume. But hey - bogus experts don't usually lay out their lack of qualifications in their CV. And lastly, checking the degree with the university isn't sufficient. For example, in Ontario an expert may have a degree in psychology but may not be qualified to practice say - neuropsychology. For example, the CPO takes the position that to proffer testimony in brain injury cases the psychologist must be authorized to practice in the competency area of neuropsychology (there are nine competency areas). None-the-less, here in Ontario there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of brain injury civil litigation cases in which psychologists not listed in the area of neuropsychology have proffered unchallenged "expert" medicolegal testimony about brain injured mva victims. Were this not so tragic it would be the stuff of high comedy.

I'm so very dissappionted at Adam Wheeler for what he did. I've seen a lot of frauds and thefts but out of all this, this is really the biggest crime ever commited and this has really crossed the line. He should get the biggest punishment ever for his alleged and dispicuple act.After hearing about this, I do not think that Adam Wheeler diserves to get into college,I don't even think he's really for college. Adam Wheeler you've let so many people down, you let your friends and family down, and you've let the people at Harvard down and you MUST face the consequences and take responsiblity for your actions.I seen students try very hard to succeed and do the best they can and put afford into their work to make it in the future, BUT not the way you did it Wheeler. After all this Wheeler should NEVER EVER be accepted into any college.One day, you'll think about what you put all those people through and if you think you're going to get a good job like that, Think again Adam Wheeler.

Book deal? I guess it would be heroic, a Jewish kid with chutzpah a taking on the world!

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About the blogger
Dave Rosenthal came to The Baltimore Sun as a business reporter in 1987 and now is the Maryland Editor. He reads a wide range of books (but never as many as he'd like), usually alternating between non-fiction and fiction. Some all-time favorites: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and anything by Calvin Trillin or John McPhee. He belongs to a book club with a Jewish theme.
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