There's an SAT academy that's been in operation for the past 15 years whose sole proprietor holds himself out to be a graduate of a distinguished university. In the Korean-American community, where a tutor attended college is given the most weight in deciding which tutor to select. However, upon research, it turns out that he has never attended the university. And when confronted, he threatened me, saying that "there will be consequences if his business reputation is harmed." I am a former student of his.

Relevant facts include.

  1. Average tuition is 1,500-2,000 for a summer class (taught mostly by him).
  2. Average enrollment during the summer is 50 students.
  3. Average college consulting service is 4,000-10,000.

He does show results with some of his students. However, his business is all about farming the best students, not helping students get into reach schools.

My question is whether this is a case of fraud in the state of California or falls under some other legal category.

2 Answers 2


It would appear so. California Civ. Code §1572 says that actual fraud is various acts

with intent to deceive another party thereto, or to induce him to enter into the contract

  1. The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;

I will suppose that the individual knows that he did not attend the university (is not delusional), and you can prove that the statement is false. It would take a bit of testifying to establish that the claimed institution was a material fact which induced customers to enter into a contract. The hardest part will be establishing damages.

  • Thanks that was helpful. In cases such as this, would you know if damages (tuition) is offset by the services rendered?
    – CDM
    Feb 25, 2017 at 23:48
  • That would be the argument, and I don't know how far that argument would take one (him). It would depend on what the objective value of the rendered service is.
    – user6726
    Feb 26, 2017 at 0:34

In some states it is a crime to promote a business using a fake academic credential, but not in California, except for specific industries such as real estate.

California is the #1 location of diploma mills and fake degrees in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can because California currently is a haven for people who lie about their academic credentials or promote businesses using false academic credentials.

Maybe move to a state like Washington that makes it illegal to use fake academic credentials to promote a business?

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