A former Chinese international student at Stony Brook has accused a Chinese education firm of committing fraud and unjust enrichment after the company forged documents which she claims led to her expulsion from the university, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court last month.
Former SBU student Jin Riuli and her co-plaintiff, former Ohio State University student Yu Shanchun, each paid education consulting firm Diguo Jiaoyu $45,000 to help them get into graduate school at Boston University and Columbia University respectively, the lawsuit states.
While Diguo advertises itself as a legitimate service which uses “internal connections” to help students get accepted into prestigious universities, according to the complaint, in reality the company relies on forged transcripts, resumes and letters of recommendations to get the desired results.
According to the suit, both plaintiffs were unaware of Diguo’s illegal tactics.
“Diguo would fraudulently claim that they have connections with high-ranked officials in those universities who are willing to accept money as a form of donation to the school or as a contribution to help start-up foundation at the school in exchange for admission,” the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, although Diguo was duly organized in New York in 2017 and has an address in Manhattan, the company exclusively operates online, with most of its business done through the popular Chinese social media app, WeChat.
The suit also claims that Diguo uses word of mouth to draw in clients by “recruiting independent Chinese-speaking individuals such as F-1 Visa Chinese students who successfully accepted/graduated from their universities to disseminate deceptive information and rumors about having a 100% successful rate to prestigious universities by using Diguo’s service.”
Jin heard about Diguo from a friend at Boston University who put her in touch with Diguo employee Zhang Shuntao, according to the suit.
Although Jin was initially asked to pay $48,000 because her GPA was only 2.0, she was able to negotiate the price down to $45,000, the suit states.
A couple of weeks after making the payment, Shuntao informed Jin that she had been accepted into Boston University, sending her a photo of her acceptance letter through WeChat, according to the complaint.
Shortly after receiving word of her acceptance, Jin was contacted by Stony Brook University’s Academic Judiciary regarding a fabricated transcript sent to Boston University and she was later expelled, the suit states.
Jin’s attorney, King Lun Wu, provided the following statement via email:
“I believe that the deciding officials at Stony Brook University on Ms. Jin’s case have made an unfair decision. While we respect Stony Brook University’s policy of Academic Integrity, it is important to realize that Ms. Jin’s case is of a more complicated nature that required more consideration and empathy from Stony Brook’s faculty. Upon further investigation and media exposure, more and more victims have come forward and contact our office. This is especially concerning because the total number of victims remain unclear. At the end of the day, it is important to keep in mind that Ms. Jin did not fabricate her transcript, nor did she know that her transcript was being fabricated; therefore, Ms. Jin’s academic integrity should not be the question in this case. Ms. Jin will be appealing her decision for the final time to Dr. Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. We hope that Dr. Robbins will be more considerate and understand that he is not only making a decision for one student, but setting a precedent for many other student victims at Stony Brook University and other schools as well.”
When asked about the lawsuit, a representative from Diguo told The Statesman, “It’s not our mistake, the students know what we are doing for them. We want students to succeed but when they are not a success they want a lot of money from us.”