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Is Mina Chang the Biggest Con in Recent History?

She put her face on a fake cover of Time magazine, and expected to get away with it.
IMAGE U.S. State Department
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Last July, rumors spread that Mina Chang will be the new US Ambassador to the Philippines. It was picked up by major news sites citing Chang as the next Ambassador-apparent. However, in a telephone interview with Esquire Philippines, the US Embassy in Manila denied that there will be a female ambassador coming in, or that Sung Kim, the present ambassador, is leaving. Apparently, that was just one of the few reports of discrepancies that surrounded Chang.

Currently, Chang is deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations. The State Department is the US’ equivalent of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs. On Tuesday, reports emerged that Chang exaggerated some parts of her CV when she applied for the post.

One of things she did to prop up her image was to create a fake cover of Time magazine with her profile on it. To make matters worse, she even talked about it in an interview when she was asked how she came to be on the cover of Time magazine.

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“Let’s take a look at some pictures you brought with you of your work around the world,” said Mary Sit in a Global Outlook Interview in 2017. “Here you are in Time Magazine, congratulations! Tell me about this cover and how this came to be.”

Without missing a beat, Chang answered the question vaguely. “Well, we started using drone technology in disaster response and so that was when the whole talk of how is technology being used to save lives in disaster response scenarios, I suppose I brought some attention to that,” said Chang. However, according to Time magazine spokesperson Kristin Matzen, the cover is fake. Interestingly, she uses the same profile picture in her biography in the State Department website.

It is not clear whether Chang earned any undergraduate degree at all.

More discrepancies about Chang were uncovered in an investigative report by NBC News. Her biography in the State Department website states that she is a "graduate" at the Army War College for a specific program. However, when contacted by NBC, it was revealed that she only attended a four-day seminar on national security.

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In her biography on the State Department website, Chang doesn’t cite any undergraduate degree that she finished. She did cite that she is an alumna of the Harvard Business School. But such information could be misleading. When NBC clarified with the school, it was revealed that Chang only finished a seven-week course in 2016 and does not hold a degree. According to Harvard Business School spokesperson Mark Cautela, anyone is considered an alumnus even without earning a degree if they attend certain executive education programs.

Such apparent falsifications raised serious questions about Chang’s qualifications, especially in September when she was nominated for the senior position of overseeing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has a budget of $1 billion. However, her nomination was withdrawn in September after the Senate Committee on Foreign relations asked for more details about Chang, particularly her overseas work.

Currently, it is not clear how much latitude Chang has in the Trump administration, or who is backing her up. But one thing’s for sure: Without the proper credentials, it is pretty damn difficult to get to where Chang is now unless you are a really good con or have a really good backer.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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