May 3 (UPI) -- The Chinese mother of a Stanford University student who was expelled in the college admissions scandal said she was duped into paying $6.5 million to the man behind the scheme, believing the money was for scholarships, programs and university salaries.
The woman, identified by her Hong Kong attorney only as Mrs. Zhao, said her daughter Yusi Zhao is a victim of the scam and not a beneficiary. Zhao's family, who lives in Beijing, gave the money to William "Rick" Singer for his foundation after Yusi Zhao was admitted to the university in March 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"This generous act was not only done for the good of the school and its students but also done out of the love and support of Yusi by a caring mother," her attorney William Law said.
The Stanford Daily student newspaper reported that Yusi Zhao, who is the daughter of Shandong Buchang co-founder Tao Zhao, was expelled for falsifying sailing credentials that were linked to a $500,000 payment to Stanford's sports program.
Shandong Buchang, located in Heze, China, is one of China's leading pharmaceutical brands with more than $14 billion in revenues, according to the Financial Times.
Law said Singer solicited the payment from Mrs. Zhao, who thought the money was going to help students who could not afford to attend Stanford and other programs.
Prosecutors say Singer's foundation was bogus, existing merely to launder payments from parents that in turn were used to bribe college coaches, university officials and test administrators.
Yusi Zhao and her parents have not been charged by federal prosecutors, who have already secured guilty pleas for 14 parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Actress Lori Loughlin has pleaded not guilty.
In a 2017 video posted on the Chinese social media platform Douyu, a student who identified herself as Yusi Zhao said she was admitted to Stanford through her own hard work, CNN reported.
"This year I am admitted to Stanford. I'm really lucky I'd like to say," Yusi Zhao said in the video. "I want to tell you all that I gained my admission into Stanford through my own hard effort. ... I wasn't doing well academically when I was in elementary school, but I can now go to Stanford after working hard."