September 28th, 2011
11:35 AM ET

7 arrested in alleged SAT cheating scam

Authorities have arrested seven people in an alleged SAT cheating scam at a Long Island, New York, high school and are investigating whether the cheating extends to other schools.

Samuel Eshaghoff, 19, of Great Neck, New York, was arrested Tuesday on felony fraud charges that could result in four years in prison if he's convicted, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office said. Six students face misdemeanor charges. Their names are not being released because they are minors.

Samuel Eshaghoff

Prosecutors allege Eshaghoff impersonated six Great Neck North High students between 2010 and 2011, charging between $1,500 and $2,500 to take the SAT test for them. Eshaghoff would take the test at schools other than Great Neck, where proctors would not be familiar with the students' identity, and present fake, unofficial identification, prosecutors say.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said authorities uncovered the scam after hearing rumors of cheating, comparing the test scores of suspects to their school grade-point averages, and finding a "wide gulf" in the cases of the six suspects. The district attorney's office said it is investigating possible cheating scams at two other Nassau County high schools as well as possible further instances involving Eshaghoff.

Eshaghoff's attorney, Matin Emouna, said his client has pleaded not guilty in the case.

And he said cheating on tests is something that should be handled in schools, not in criminal courts.

"At what point are you going to draw the line?" Emouna asked during a phone interview with CNN Wednesday. "No one has had a case like this in the U.S., and I think attorneys are going to have a field day with it."

The victims in the case are students who are denied admission at the colleges of their choice by students who cheated, Rice said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning."

"Honest kids should not be bumped out of college slots by kids who cheated," she said.

Rice called on the Educational Testing Service, the nonprofit which administers the SAT test nationwide, to establish procedures to combat cheating, including photographing students as they take the test and attaching the picture to the answer sheet.

"We need ETS to tighten security they have at these test centers," Rice said.

She also called on ETS to inform colleges if cheating is suspected. ETS currently deals with suspected cheating by canceling test scores and offering refunds or retests or arbitration, according to the district attorney's office.

“Colleges look for the best and brightest students, yet these six defendants tried to cheat the system and may have kept honest and qualified students from getting into their dream school,” Rice said in a statement Tuesday.

Rice said authorities have no evidence implicating parents in the cheating scandal.

Great Neck North identifies itself as a high-performing high school, with a 97% graduation rate and almost 97% of students planning to pursue higher education.

"National publications consistently and historically have included Great Neck North High School among the top secondary schools in the country," the school says in a profile on its website.

The  mean scores achieved by Great Neck North students on SAT tests in 2010 were well above the national average, according to the profile.

Eshaghoff, a 2010 Great Neck North graduate, tested in the 97th percentile, Rice said. He is now enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta after attending the University of Michigan for his freshman year, the prosecutor's office said.

The next SAT test dates are this weekend and Rice said authorities would be vigilant.

“These arrests should serve as a warning to those taking the SAT this Saturday that if you cheat, you can face serious criminal consequences," Rice said.

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Filed under: Crime • Education • New York
soundoff (563 Responses)
  1. moto199

    We all know he will be a future politician, right along with the kids he took the test for. What a great future we all have..

    September 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SAT Cheater

    I knew that kid. I followed his same method for my own benefit and got super high scores on the SAT. I'm now attending a great college. College is a scam. just go to community college for 2 years and then u can go any where u want. save ur wallets.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Commonsense

    He didn't cheat. he was doing a job. The students that hired him are the cheaters. I commend him for his entrepeneurship.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Commonsense

    Yes the white kids have to because they open slots for obviously underqualified blacks that get them for the color of their skin.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheMoney

    I was curious though...Where did these kids get the money to pay this guy? Unless they were loaded...I'm thinking mom or dad may have hired him too? $2000 doesn't just fall out of the sky for most 16 year olds to blow on an SAT Test Taker...

    September 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARC

      Great Neck = The Gatsby's. The kid was charging a week's allowance...

      September 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. barbara

    Succeed at any cost. Sounds like this kid and the others have great future potential to be corrupt politicans, CEOs, and money scammers.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mik

      Maybe they can work on Wall Street, they'd fit right in there!

      September 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ShameMonster

    $1500 – $2500! They should charge the parents too....It's very unlikely these kids just had that kind dough lying around. And if they did, the last thing they would do is spend it on SAT's. Now these kinds are going to end up with a record......shame on those parents!

    September 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. taz

    I worked n a medical facility 4 years with a white woman who didnt know her ass-hole from a hole n d ground....her aunt pulled some strings n got her hired...she later was terminated becuz she was incompetent

    September 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • evalu8

      And that has what to do with SAT's? Oh...nevermind, I understand. You never took one and don't know what they are. Sounds more like you got a color chip on your shoulder and CommonSense nailed you on that one.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. justathought

    $1500-2500 and the athorities say that there was no indecation that parents were involved? I think there is some hanky-panky going on with the athorities and parents.==========Has anyone given thought to the fact that it was because of cheating which has caused the national ecconomic disaster that we are in now–when did people start cheating big time? cheating is international, look how China has cheated the US and still doing it.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dirtybird

    I was unaware that contractual obligations had risen to the level of criminal law. Isn't the SAT administered by a private organization? As such, does that not make any testing agreements (agree to not cheat, etc) PRIVATE CONTRACTS? I did not know that one could be imprisoned for violating a private contract between two parties.

    So is it illegal to lie on a job resumé, too?

    I can understand a case for a lawsuit by the SAT administrators against the fraudulent test-taker, because he violated the test agreement and it may have done actual harm to the integrity of the test itself. I do not think that it should be a criminal matter, though?

    Why does everything have to be a criminal matter now? Our prisons are overflowing. We incarcerate more people than anyone else. We criminalize far too many behaviors. Should he be sued? Sure. Should he go to jail? No.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mik

    I used to help administer the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) and not only did the registrants need to have two pieces of ID (one being PHOTO ID), but they were also fingerprinted... Perhaps if they brought the same rules into the SAT's they wouldn't have a problem.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lucas

    What a waste. The SAT was one of the easiest tests i've ever taken.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee

    The guy's a cheater and I hope he gets time. As for his lawyer's take, precedents needs to be set. Hang'em all!

    September 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. stephanie

    its sad when poor american children are forced to cheat on there sats just to get a decent college education obviously they want it bad enough, and just cus theyre not as smart as other kids doesnt mean they shouldnt get a chance at a scholorship i personally think education should b free for anyone at a lower class level. I agree that there should b some sort of punishment, but i dont think the law should b involved they will never get to go to college now and even if they do they wont get a decent job after cus they will hav a record now very sad

    September 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Thompson

      ahh the pride of mediocrity

      September 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jye

      Stephanie, based upon your own spelling and grammar, it's no surprise that you're an advocate for cheating.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. taz

    This type of behavior have been destroying our country 4 centuries...their ancestors stole n from qualified individuals n pave the way 4 their nonqualified relatives thats y affirmative action is needed... Without it blacks will still be slaves cleaning the master's house

    September 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
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