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. David

    I guess these students were pursuing a career in politics, major bank CEO, or Wall Street (or all three).

    September 28, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philojazz

      David, you forgot Law School, which was my first guess.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • SMS

      Exactly! Cheating is a way of life in the "real" world, where adults are rewarded for it all the time. Why hold students to a higher standard?

      September 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joel

    The sat is tremendously over rated anyways. It's sad that people feel they must go to these lengths to prove their academic abilities.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philojazz

      Joel, they didn't go to these great lengths to "prove" their academic abilities. They were trying to LIE ABOUT THEM.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeMazzla

      How do you supposed they do it then? And how do you thinnk colleges should compare one child to another. There has to be a standard test to compare kids because every HS grades in a different way.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • The Cube

      SAT is not over-rated.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Flashdog2

    No wonder "whte people" score so high on the SAT...I'm sure this happens a lot more than you think...What poor person of any color could afford 1500 dollars to have some take the test...

    September 28, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Speedy

      Don't pull the white race thing Flashdog2. because the poor Black and Hispanic crowd would just steal the $1500-$2500 dollars to have a white guy take the test.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Aces

      They would not have to pay to have the test taken for them, they get in with lower scores due to their 'minority' status.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Blessings3936

      Why must everything resort back to race. Get over it!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • coldfury91

      Did you really just ask that question. Maybe because race was inherent in the development of this country. Duh!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Armando

      This comment is extremely racist.
      1) You assume minorities are the ones that are paying for someone to test for them.
      2) You assume that as a minority is easy to get into college.

      As a Puerto Rican I can tell you I pity you for your ignorance, and although you don't care, I pity the example you set on your kids. (hopefully you don't have any)

      This racism is rampant in the states, and I work as hard as any of the "caucasians" because I am proud of my heritage.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mari

      They were not minority. At least, they were not racially ethnic.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ablackman

      Really.. "minority". I guess you never took the test.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jem morgue

      Second

      September 28, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Yes but if the guy above showed up with ID saying Emilio Ramirez, the game would have been up.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • LEARNTOREAD

      seriously, what an ignorant and downright nasty comment.....you're what's wrong with america–take your racist junk and shove it....bet your klan meetings are made up from some wonderful fulbright scholars....( you have heard of the fulbright right ?)

      September 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snobby is as snobby does

      I've heard of the Fulbright. I've also heard about the shift key... you know, the one used to capitalize a letter? Oh – you don't know. Why am I not surprised?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • H. E. Vincent

      Hey Bubba- Keep this in mind! If they would make Slick Willie the cigar sniffer a Rhodes Scholar, and they'd give Al "hot air" Gore the Nobel, then they would do anything!

      September 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You are a genius! That's why Asian kids score so high. There is only 1 really smart Asian kid who takes everyone else's test, and since they all look the same, no way to catch him.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Krow

      OK ... that's pretty insulting, but funny as hell.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Alphastupid

      There are parallels to our own country's economic problems in this story. I am assuming if we are raising alpha-kids who will then lie, cheat and do anything to get ahead – mom and dad may already be doing this too. These kids will fall. Just can't figure out if they will fall getting caught or get caught up having to take some high potency perscription when they're only 25 just to get by and keep up. So sad. PS – knock out the SAT/ACT altogether – it's not a test measuring your IQ, it's a privilaged test where only those who are able to afford extra supports (and this case a live test dummie) have the chance to do well. If we valued EQ more, perhaps we would be able to be less stressed and not resport to unresponsible behaviors! Live long, live strong – don't make those drug companies any richer!!

      September 28, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      Your sweeping comments about who does well on ACT/SAT are just flat-out wrong. These are standardized tests and are correlated to IQ. Save your EQ for the Quakers. These test results are nuch more objective than grades which can be gamed endlessly at almost every school. I'd rather have an applicant with 2,250 on his/her SATs and a B average in HS than someone with 1,800 SATs and an A average. Smarter people make smarter mistakes. It's anecdotal, but I did not come from a privileged background and yet scored in the 99+ percentile on the SATs.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rang Dipkin

      I went hungover to my SAT exam when I was in high school .. still got a 1490 back when it was out of 1600. Drinking helps !!

      September 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samsung

      Really those tests are crap because, why is it that so many students, who take these tests, still flunk out of college?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      First of all, everything correlated. What you meant to say is that is strongly positively correlated. I would like to see some evidence for that.

      I personally spent a lot of time preparing for the test and scored about 200 points (out of 1600) higher than my original score. I'm not saying it's not positvely correlated, but I think it's much weaker than people think.

      Someone can surely design a standardized test that better indicates a person's intelligence than the SAT.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • barbara

      This is not entirely true. My younger son got straight A's in high school has a superior-borderline genius IQ, and did well on the SATs but not what you'd think for someone with all his brains... why? He had trouble sitting that long and doing something that he didn't want to be doing.

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

      I'd disagree with you on this one, regarding the test scores vs career grades comment. I think looking at the mean average of 4 years of academic performance + activities is much more telling of a person's commitment to their personal goals and a better marker for intelligence than a single test score could tell. There are too many outside factors that could contribute to the outcome of a single test for that one score to be completely indicative of a person's intellectual potential. Perhaps if the SAT was changed to a series of tests taken on separate days over the course of a few months ..... but now I think I've earned the ire of every college bound teenager in the country....

      September 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Gates

      You're a moron, who knows nothing about normal sitribution and the bell curve !! When we talk in general we talk about the norm and not the exception. You seem to be the stupid/book smart exception.

      September 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      are you a crackhead? How is a test "privileged" for testing what a person actually knows regardless of how they came to know it? Assuming you're not cheating, It is a test based on MERIT....If anything, you are suggesting that we give an unfair advantage by giving a pass to poor people for not knowing anything because they come from a bad background...

      September 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • coldfury91

      Yes the SAT tests what you know but being black or latino in America usually means that you will go to a black or latino school. This usually leads to blacks or latinos being gauranteed a less than equal education. Now if the SATS tested what kids actually learned in THEIR schools, then maybe it would be a fair test but since it doesnt then yes it is a very biased test. Think before you speak. IDIOT.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      NONE of that is accurate....

      September 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      @ alphastupid....

      September 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • UneedMeds

      You jumped from "cheating students" to "making drug companies richer". How exactly did you get there? By the way, did ya take your meds today? LMAO!!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      First off, your analysis here relies on entirely on the assumption that alpha-kids all lie/cheat, and that they all need to abuse medication to continue to do well. Both of these things just aren't true.

      The reason I really wanted to reply is this: There is a cheap, easy way to do well on the SATs. If you have a kid, listen up:
      I used to work for Kaplan as a SAT tutor. If your kid is dumb as a post, he may be able to benefit from their SAT classes, which range anywhere from $500-$1000. If your kid is anything smarter than a post, he will get almost nothing from the classes, and will need private tutoring to bump his score up (the class goes at the dumb kids' pace). This costs a truly exorbitant amount of money.

      The dumb kids do need the help. They need to learn test-taking skills as well as the material on the test. The smart kids don't really get much out of it. If your kid is getting like a 650 per section or better, each additional correct answer is worth as much as 30 points depending on the curve. The difference is luck.

      The truth is that if your kid isn't an idiot (he gets Bs or better) he doesn't need to spend more than $100 to prep for the test. You need to buy two things, a big book published by Kaplan or College Board or Princeton review with a whole heap of previous tests in them (they come with maybe 10 or so full length SATs), and another book about test taking practices, procedures, and material on the test. Read the book with content, then take all the tests. Answer every question. Time him. Score it. Go over wrong answers.

      Here's the big Kaplan secret: THAT'S WHAT YOU PAY $1000+ FOR!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Cube

      Nonsense. So drop the test and just ask a kid what color they?

      September 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • lewax00

      "it's a privilaged test where only those who are able to afford extra supports (and this case a live test dummie) have the chance to do well"

      While I agree the test isn't the best way to measure intelligence, I did very well on it (top in my graduating class) and I my family certainly couldn't afford any extras. I'm only able to go to college at all because of a combination of financial aid and merit scholarships. So money has nothing to do with it.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Brown

      I did very well on the SAT without "extra supports." My parents never spent a cent other than the cost of the test itself. I did buy a review book (with my own money, not parents') before I took the GRE, but it didn't really help. I did very well on the GRE and could have done just as well without the book.

      Coaching and practice can help reduce test anxiety and help students gain familiarity with the test. That might raise scores by a few points, but it's not going to turn a "just gets by" kid into a paper genius.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • S1N

      Actually, you don't need money to do well on the SAT (with the obvious exception of the registration fee). As long as you have had a quality education, you may not even need to study. The SAT is easier than it has ever been, especially since it barely goes through algebra and the basics of English grammar. The only section that could possibly trip someone up is the vocabulary, due to the number of words included that are generally not used in conversational English.

      I went to public school. I actually paid attention and ensured my course load matched my abilities, instead of just skating by waiting for a diploma. If you don't do well, it is your own fault. It is also your parents' fault for not instilling in you the desire to learn. Stop blaming the system and take responsibility for your own actions and failures.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dumazz

      You know you're not privileged when you can't spell privileged.

      September 29, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      If you are going to delete the idiot who i was responding to and making fun of, then you should delete my comment too, as it is now out of context and sounds bad. Thanks!

      September 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mabel

    What this proves is that testing people to see who should go to the best schools is pointless. Being smart does not mean being a decent human being, or whether you can get the job done and done well. My daughter sucks at testing, but she is a hard worker and follows through, shows up and doesn't cheat. She didn't get into the schools she wanted because her test scores were low. But did do well enough at the school that accepted her that she made the deans list, because she was in art classes that don't base ability on testing. She now attends the University of Maryland, they would not have accepted her based on her test scores. there are plent of very bright people, that can't function socially, or keep organized, or turn things in on time....they have people that do that for them.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kai

      Yes, the test is overrated. It ends up being a game of who has the money to hire tutors and test-prep classes. I didn't do any of that, and absolutely bombed the ACT (well, English was very high, math very low). However, it's made no difference in my ability in several universities where I've come close to keeping a 4-point grade average. It's time the schools and Americans in general rethink these tests that are given - including IQ tests. Many will score highly who can't accomplish anything, and vice versa.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      The tests don't indicate what a person WILL do...it only indicates potential based on aggregate data...you can work hard all you want, but if you're stupid as a brick, you aren't going to be the best pick for employment that requires complex thought.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. TXJim

    When he gets out of prison, he will be qualified to be a hedge fund manager.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      or an illegal alien. He's got mad illegal alien skillz – cheating the system, using fake ID, pretending to be someone he's not.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. svann

    It will be interesting to see if and how much the sat scores for this "top secondary school" are reduced when cheating is not allowed.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mel

    Please, "there is no evidence that the parents were involved"??? Seriously? These kids just happened to have $1500-$2500 at their disposal without Mom and Dad's help??

    September 28, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • bob

      This is long island we are talking about...

      September 28, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Why not? They might have a job and no expenses like rent or bills.....all income is disposable....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. JHL

    He's an adult who committed fraud on multiple occasions. He wasn't driven by a disinterested spirit of generosity; rather, he did this for money.

    Expanding the antics of a low-level creep to make a statement about society as a whole is a tad over-wrought. Save yout vitriol and angst for something a little more substantive. On the other hand, from an acorn the might oak does grow.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dirty Joe

    How well did he do?

    September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. justathought

    I have a hard time believing there are so many people on this board that find nothing wrong with this kid just because others are doing it. I don't think my idea the these people are also cheats that just haven't got caught yet, is too warped, it may even be that they are worse. Is their idea that it's OK cheat someone else, but d___ don't you dare cheat me or I'll beat you to a pulp! Like: it's OK if I lie to you, but don't lie to me. And, it's OK someone lies to someone else, just so long as they don't lie to me, then it's not OK. That is my take on some of the people who have posted on this board.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. John

    oh please stop...this has been going on for years.....

    September 28, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. joesy

    for all those who are concerned about these kids "stealing" the futures of more qualified students....it's been happening for years under the name of affirmative action.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Affirmative action only bumps out the borderline students that would likely fail out of college in short order anyway....top students get into the best school regardless of their skin color and advancement programs...if you got bumped by a minority because you're white, perhaps you should have aimed for more than the bare minimum....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • SMS

      Well said, Rob.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      You wonder why we need affirmative action. This has been going on for years and it's just the same as affirmative action except it's for whites. Let me buy my way through.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • anthony

      joesy: You are an azzhole!!! Affirmative Action works in the same way legacy admissions work. There are no guaranteed spots in these schools. STFU, with your racist nonsense and go back to your teabagging hellhole aka your abode.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Foman

    I studied second hand SAT books for weeks and scored in the 99% for several of these exams. These kids do not want to study or have no confidence in themselves, so they either cheat or do poorly. Before you rag on "White" people, why not post how many weeks ahead YOU studied and what your score was? There IS a link between hard work and grades.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      I scored a 2250 and did not study for a minute. That's a 1500 if you're not familiar with the 'new' SAT. People need to understand that there's more to succeeding academically than simply working hard; sometimes you need to just know things.

      I saw another poster complaining that people put too much emphasis on smarts and not enough on 'hard work' and 'organization'. These things are important, but I'd rather have a socially uncomfortable genius on my staff than a dedicated moron. Just my take.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Michele

    Imagine if a kid like this used his obvious intelligence to accomplish good. And as far as the other students who cheated by using his services, there are plenty of teachers operating unethically to get their students the best scores. I am a retired elementary teacher and often saw lessons taught out of context – even actual math problems slightly changed – a day or two before section tests, as if the teacher had scanned and then said, "Time for one more quick lesson this morning BEFORE the test.". This is what happens when test scores are seen as the entrance ticket to the right schools AND tied to district funding.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Alex

    Haha, people are so dumb to think that it's only white people doing this. The others just haven't been caught.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sammy

      Come on now how many blacks do you know would pay that much money or hispanics for that matter. Are you referring to Asians.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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