October 10, 2012

Why it pays to read iSteve: Naive Hong Kong parents pay conman $2.2 million to bribe their sons into Harvard

From the Boston Globe:
To Gerald and Lily Chow, education consultant Mark Zimny must have seemed like the answer to many parents’ prayer: Please let my child get into Harvard University. 
The Chows, who lived in Hong Kong, knew little about the US educational system, but they did know that they wanted an Ivy League education for their sons. And they had money to spend on consultants like Zimny, who, they believed, could help make the dream come true. 
What transpired, however, turned out to be a cautionary tale for the thousands of parents who are fueling the growing global admissions-consulting industry. 
Zimny, whom they met in 2007, had credentials. He had worked as a professor at Harvard. He ran an education consultancy, IvyAdmit. And he had a plan to help the Chows’ two sons, then 16 and 14. 
First, Zimny’s company would provide tutoring and supervision while the boys attended American prep schools. Then, according to a complaint and other documents the Chows filed as part of a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston, Zimny said he would grease the admissions wheels, funneling donations to elite colleges while also investing on the Chows’ behalf. 
According to the suit, Zimny warned the Chows against giving to schools directly. “Embedded racism” made development offices wary of Asian donors, he allegedly advised them; better to use his company as a middleman. 
Over two years, the Chows gave IvyAdmit $2.2 million. 
Now, they are charging that Zimny lied to them repeatedly, committing fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and several other transgressions — and they want their money back.

If only the Chows had been regular readers of iSteve, they would have known what the real Harvard Number for getting your kid into Harvard is, and that anybody asking for only $1.1 million per child is a palpable fraud.

Speaking of all the useful information you learn from reading iSteve, I gratefully announced last night that the first full day of my first fundraising drive in 14 month was most encouraging.

UPDATE: It turns out the next paragraph was based on a wrong assumption. It turns out that Amazon simply turned off my account without mentioning it to me when I check in to my account on their website. They've sent me an email demanding I answer the exactly same questions I answered the last time they turned off my account in the middle of Sunday night, which is why I posted their questions and my answers on my Amazon page.

Being a former member of the marketing research industry, I hoped that would encourage fencesitters to want to jump on the bandwagon. But being a notoriously bad marketer, my strategy, perhaps unsurprisingly, has so far had the opposite effect from what I intended: donations have since slowed to a trickle. So, today, let me beg you: I really, really need to make more money off my writing. It's all I do. I'm not a good multitasker, and if I had to go back and get a real job, I wouldn't be able to write much at all.

There are a few ways to support my work:

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I tried to send you another $10 (wish it was a lot more), but when I clicked on the one-time $10 donation button, I was taken to a page that says this:
Invalid Request

Error Message:
An Amazon Payments Business account with verified email address and
credit card is required to accept payments using Amazon Simple Pay.

Which I provided last weekend.

This is extraordinarily frustrating. Here you have Amazon, a company with a $100 billion market capitalization and it can't seem to not break down every day or two. 

You might almost think it's personal. 

Nor does Amazon go out of its way to publicize where to call or email when it decides to stop working.

So, for the moment:

First: You can send me money via Amazon (not tax-deductible). Click here and then click on the button for the amount you want to pay. It's especially quick if you already have an Amazon account, but any major credit card will work fine. (I want to thank all the generous folks who helped me work out the kinks in this method, using their own real money.)

Here's what is still working at present:

Second: You can make a tax deductible contribution to me via VDARE by clicking here.

Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91617-4142



Anonymous said...

So, today, let me beg you: I really, really need to make more money off my writing. It's all I do. I'm not a good multitasker, and if I had to go back and get a real job, I wouldn't be able to write much at all.

You need to write some books. It's kind of ridiculous you've only written one of them.

Anonymous said...

what i would like to see is a lawsuit against harvard renege on someone who gave 'the number' it's bound to happen eventually.

Diogenes' Diaphragm said...

Well, I know nothing about the profession of marketing, but it seems to me that burying your plea in a post about something else (however tangentially related) isn't the way to go about it.

If you provide a service that people appreciate (and I myself find on your site a lot of interesting ideas that I'd never come across otherwise), and you need money, then say so more directly in a post that says directly what you want. Obviously, you've done that in earlier posts, but the plea in this post should get a post of its own.

And I was one of those who coughed up a bit of money yesterday. I have to say that normally I don't think people who post stuff on the internet deserve to get paid for it, but I really do think I find something here that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.

So, all you deadbeats out there: give Sailer $50 or $100! That's really not much money, and if everybody who reads this blog profitably (ha!) did that, SS should be able to pay off whatever this big expense of his is and get on with his writing.

chucho said...

Sending a check.

Anonymous said...

Re the "Harvard number", there was a book written about it by Daniel Golden called "The Price of Admission." It was around $2.5 million in the early to mid-2000s. I guess it inflated upwards like everything else to around $5 million or so like you heard from your acquaintance:


"In “The Price of Admission,” a delicious account of gross inequities in high places, Daniel Golden tells me that I’ve gotten away cheap. A son of Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, got into Princeton because the Frist family “had lavished tens of millions of dollars on a new student center” there. Margaret Bass, daughter of the oil magnate Robert Bass, got into Stanford after her old man gave the university $25 million. Jessica Zofnass’s Harvard-educated father endowed a scholarship in environmental studies around the time of her admission. Charles Kushner, a real estate developer who went to jail for witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions, pledged $2.5 million to Harvard — Kushner himself went to N.Y.U. — which did the trick for his son Jared (who recently bought The New York Observer). Golden is distressed by the notion that his book might become a buyer’s guide, but his answer to the question “What’s it cost to buy your kid into Harvard?” seems to be $2.5 mil, plus what you’ve contributed to politicians, legally or not, so they’ll make a follow-up call for you."

Anonymous said...

What happened to the doctrine of unclean hands? They wanted to bribe their way into Harvard. Case dismissed with prejudice.

Anonymous said...

If I give you money will you let my insightful comments through?

Anonymous said...

You need to write some books. It's kind of ridiculous you've only written one of them.

Seconded. Cowens and Caplans of the world churn out tons of books, market them shamelessly and make decent profit in the end (mostly indirect, probably; think of all the Gladwellian speaking fees you'd get from all the major corporations striving to learn about the importance of HBD :-))

Anonymous said...

Another advantage of bitcoin is there is no "they" to stop processing your payments "accidentally".

Mitch said...

Steve, I forget why you don't use Paypal? It's very efficient and convenient; I don't know if it's more expensive than other methods.

Anonymous said...

Just come out and say it.

Anonymous said...

Why is the Globe covering this story now? The story it tells seems to end in 2009. Indeed, the lawsuit dates back to 2010. The only news seems to be that it's about to go to court.

Who wants this story to appear in the paper? Or did the newspaper find it by looking at upcoming cases? If they do that, why don't they look at filed cases, and thus report on this years ago?

Anonymous said...

The American winners of this years' Nobel Prizes are all American-born. What happened to the supposed Indian geniuses we are importing on H1B visas? Maybe we should increase the H1B quota to 100 million a year.

Anonymous said...


We have family friends, Harvard and Wellesley grads respectively, who bought their son's way into Harvard with several million as you mention after he was wait listed.

I almost wonder if Harvard does this on purpose with people who are known to be very wealthy. Our friends are worth a few hundreds of millions, so the sum was pocket change to them.

Anonymous said...

I met a guy once who said his girlfriend had gotten into Harvard on a mere $2 million donation, but one of her parents (her father, I think) was an alumnus, and she was probably a competitive applicant anyway, so I'm sure they gave her family a deep discount.

Anonymous said...

Kill the daughter, raise the son! Harvard Harvard numba one!

Anonymous said...

Kill the daughter, raise the son! Harvard Harvard numba one!

Anonymous said...

Citizens of China yet their names are Gerald and Lily. How white of them. *roll eyes*

Two wrongs don't make a right. The Chows wanted to bribe, which is illegal, Harvard with money. They couldn't do that so they turned to Zinny. I'm not surprised the judge went along with the Chows because there is a pervasive "good student" meme with East Asians which places them beyond criticism in society. The lawsuit should have been tossed out. The Chows were not honest, fair people. They were in on an illegal game.