Ex-Yale student charged with fraud

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April 15, 2008

2:16 AM

In 2007, Yale University dismissed transfer student Akash Maharaj after discovering that the 26-year-old had forged transcripts and recommendations a year earlier. After receiving nearly $50,000 in financial aid, Maharaj faces charges of larceny and fraud in court according to the Yale Daily News.

Maharaj’s fake transcript boasted straight As from Columbia University that gained the native Trinidadian admission, as well as a scholarship, to Yale. He had, in fact, attended Columbia, but not during the dates listed on his phony transcripts; in the classes from which he did not withdraw, Maharaj did not earn a single A.

After Yale revoked his admission, Maharaj claimed to have been confused with another student and sent Yale another fake Columbia transcript in hopes of salvaging his place at the school. He submitted his second transcript on convincing Columbia letterhead. This time, however, Yale was not duped.

In a letter to Yale, Maharaj blamed his ex-boyfriend, tampering by a former Columbia employee and identity theft for the inconsistencies in his applications.

In fact, it was Maharaj’s ex-boyfriend and fellow Yale student, Victor Cazares, who sparked the investigation that led to the student’s expulsion from the prestigious university. When facts about Maharaj’s past weren’t making sense, Cazares confronted him and ended their relationship. According to police, Maharaj then threatened to kill himself.

Despite agreeing to seek psychiatric help, Maharaj allegedly threatened Cazares who alerted police and took out a restraining order. According to the Courant Newspaper, Maharaj continued to send text messages to Cazares.

“Soon you’ll have everything you want, and I’ll have nothing,” a June 28 message read, according to a police warrant.

The message was in response to a letter Maharaj received from Yale’s dean of students regarding his forged transcripts. Police arrested Maharaj and discovered that the student was years older than he claimed on his paperwork and had attended a number of colleges before sending his phony paper work to the university.

Academically, Maharj was a sound student at Yale, earning the respect of many professors, including Sara Goodyear.

“He was articulate, very attentive and so highly intelligent that I considered asking him to work as my assistant over the summer,” she said in an interview with the New York Times.

Yale students’ reactions ranged from anger to understanding.

“If I had been able to do it without actually having to do any work, might not have been such a bad thing,” Meghan Fashjin, a graduate student, said in an interview with NBC news. “Clearly he’s talented.”

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