A Chinese mother of a Stanford University student says she was duped into making a $6.5 million payment to the ringleader of the college admissions scandal because she believed the money was going towards scholarships for needy students.
Yusi 'Molly' Zhao, whose family lives in Beijing, was admitted to Stanford in 2017 and moved to California to attend the elite university.
The $6.5 million figure was paid to William Rick Singer's foundation the month after she was admitted.
Mrs Zhao now believes her daughter - who was expelled from the school last month - is a victim in the college bribery scam, the LA Times reports.
A lawyer for Molly's mother issued a statement on Thursday saying Singer had told her the payment would go towards scholarships, salaries and programs for students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.
She believed the payment was similar to routine donations made by other wealthy parents, the lawyer said.
Yusi 'Molly' Zhao, whose family lives in Beijing, was admitted to Stanford in 2017 and moved to California to attend the elite university
'This generous act was not only done for the good of the school and its students, but also done out of the love and support of Yusi by a caring mother,' the lawyer said, adding that Mrs Zhao thought the foundation was legitimate.
No one in the Zhao family has been charged in the college bribery scam.
Mrs Zhao was said to be 'shocked and deeply disturbed' when details of the scheme emerged and a number of parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, were charged.
'Mrs Zhao has come to realize she has been misled, her generosity has been taken advantage of and her daughter has fallen victim to the scam,' the lawyer said.
Singer ultimately presented the Chinese student as a sailing recruit to help guarantee her admission into Stanford. The school's sailing coach, John Vandemoer, has pleaded guilty to racketeering and admitted working with Singer as part of the scheme.
The Zhao family said Singer never promised to get Molly into the school and they were 'surprised' to learn she had been admitted.
Molly's family met Singer through a Morgan Stanley money manager.
Her father, Tao Zhao, is the co-founder of multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company Shandong Buchang, based in China. He was among the men and women named in the Panama Papers.
DailyMail.com has learned that Stanford was quick to act when they learned about the scandal and quickly expelled Molly in late March, according to multiple sources with ties to the college.
The Stanford Daily reports that Zhao's expulsion date was March 30, three days before the school revealed an unidentified student had been ordered to leave the school for submitting false information with her application.
A spokesperson for Stanford declined to comment.
Daddy dearest: Her father, Tao Zhao (above), is the co-founder of multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company Shandong Buchang
Zhao's student profile has been taken down at Stanford and an email to her school account was not returned to DailyMail.com.
No one in her family has