What We Can Learn From the Lying Harvard Larcenist

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Photo: Harvard Crimson

Adam Wheeler, 23, is a former Harvard student who has been charged with twenty counts of larceny, identity fraud, falsifying an endorsement or approval, and pretending to hold a degree. Over the past few years, he lied about his grades (and even colleges) to gain transferal to Harvard (after getting kicked out of Bowdoin) and then eventually lied on applications for Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships, claiming to have obtained perfect grades as an English major at Harvard and to have co-authored multiple books. This is when he was busted. So, what can we learn from this?

1. Obviously, everyone should start lying on their college applications now. Wheeler claimed on his Harvard application not only that he had a perfect SAT score, but that he had attended MIT and Phillips Academy Andover. All things that are very easily checked, but which clearly weren't in this case.

2. If you have a sketchy friend whose lying you just try to ignore, there might be a deeper problem. You know that pal you have that sometimes tells you stories, like that one about how he kissed Anne Hathaway after getting drunk next to her in first class on a flight to Istanbul, that just don't add up? Well, he could be lying about everything. Listen to this Wheeler anecdote, from the Post:


A former friend from Bowdoin, Nick Dunn, told the Post that he first realized there was something phony about his pal during a trip the two took to New York City in 2006. "We were walking around New York and ran into an old classmate of Adam's, I guess from high school. And the classmate said, 'Oh, Adam, how's MIT?' "He said, 'Oh, it's great!' And we were like, 'What? You don't go to MIT!' " Dunn said, "He's definitely been disingenuous with people for a while," noting that Wheeler also bragged that he attended the University of Chicago.

Sounds crazy, right? But if this was your sketchy friend who comes up with weird claims semi-regularly, you might have just let this slide. Don't! Some of the smartest people are the most shifty. Ask him what dorm he was in at Andover, and see if he knows that football chant that ends with, " ... you're gonna pump our gas someday!"

3. Handsome men get away with things more easily. Actually, this isn't anything new, but we just wanted to point out that he's pretty cute.

4. Know your limits. Wheeler would have probably made it out of Harvard in the clear had he not made outrageous claims on his Rhodes application and plagiarized his essay. You'll notice it's only people who have personality disorders who compare themselves to Icarus.

5. Realizing you are about to graduate with a useless English degree can make you do pretty desperate things. Like make up fabulous lies in order to keep yourself in grant money and prestige. Or become a blogger.

Former Harvard Student Indicted For Falsified Applications, Identity Fraud [Harvard Crimson via Gawker]