College cheating scam: Hallmark drops accused actress Lori Loughlin

Lori LoughlinImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Lori Loughlin starred in two Hallmark series and several Hallmark films

US TV network Hallmark has dropped one of its biggest stars, Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin, over her alleged role in a college cheating scam.

The Full House star appeared in several projects for the network, including drama When Calls the Heart.

She was among 50 people charged in an alleged criminal enterprise to get their children into top US colleges.

Beauty brands Sephora and TREsemme have also cut ties with Ms Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli.

Ms Loughlin is best known for playing Rebecca Katsopolis in 1980s and 90s US sitcom Full House and its Netflix follow-up Fuller House.

In recent years, she has become Hallmark's marquee star, starring in ratings hit When Calls the Heart, the Garage Sale Mystery film series and several Christmas films.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Loughlin (centre) with her Full and Fuller House co-stars Jodie Sweetin (left) and Candace Cameron-Bure (right)

Crown Media Family Networks, which owns the Hallmark channel, in a statement: "We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions [involving the actress] that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels."

Her daughter Olivia Jade is a beauty vlogger and social media "influencer". Her make-up collaboration with US beauty chain Sephora had been removed from the company's website by Thursday afternoon.

Shortly after Sephora's announcement, the makers of hair care range TRESemme announced they had ended their relationship with the teenager as well. She has not yet responded to requests for a comment.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Loughlin and her daughters Isabella Rose Giannulli (left) and Olivia Jade Giannulli (right)

What is the college cheating scam?

Authorities say Ms Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 (£377,000) in bribes to have their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California (USC) as recruits to the rowing team, even though neither participates in the sport.

They are among more than 30 accused parents - many of whom are celebrities or executives - who allegedly paid a firm up to $6.5m (£4.9m) to cheat on students' college entrance exams or bribe top coaches to offer fake athletic scholarships.

Ms Loughlin has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

She appeared in court on Wednesday and was granted permission to travel to Canada for a film project.

Mr Giannulli faced the same charges on Tuesday and was forced to put the family's house up as collateral to pay his $1m (£754,000) bond.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman - who allegedly paid $15,000 (£11,300) to participate in an exam cheating scam - is another of the accused parents.

Media caption,
Felicity Huffman appeared in court in Los Angeles on Tuesday

Ms Huffman was taken into FBI custody on Tuesday and released on $250,000 (£188,000) bail. She was made to surrender her passport in court.

Yale, Stanford and Georgetown were among the universities targeted in the scam.

The colleges have not been accused of any wrongdoing and are investigating the matter internally.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email