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. bill

    They want to grow up to be Washingtonites that continue to cheat and steal all their lives at the cost of the country.
    I never took the SAT but I also use turn signals during a lane change.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FParana

    LOL. Even after decades of decaying SAT standards, these nincompoops still have to cheat? Sometime around 1965, SAT test scores peaked and then began to decline. When the decline got embarrassing enough, the ETS made it easier for dummies to get decent scores. Even with score inflation, the decline continues.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. T

    This seems familiar......wasn't this a movie some years back ?
    With Scarlett Johanson, Chris Evans and Erika Christensen ? It was about the SATs....
    Ah yes, "The Perfect Score" was the name, it's about a few students in high school, who seek to get the answers to the SATs to get into the college of their choice.
    Anyone remember that one ?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Willy Brown

    Were not too smart are we?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      We're

      September 28, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      smart,

      September 28, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      ** We're

      September 28, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Well, judging by the corrections below, you are not...

      September 28, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Leopold

    Eshaghoff must be a very smart kid with bright future to have SAT score in 97 percentile. What a shame to throw your bright future away for $2500. Money would come and go, but this will stay wit him for the rest of his life.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Junction

      $2500/test @ 7 tests. Sounds like someone just paid for their first year of college.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Hank

      Not all trouble people are dummies, perhaps many dummies prefer staying out of trouble.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bankster

    And yet the wall street criminal investment banksters not only avoided jail, they are still allowed to speculate just like before our economy crashed.

    Justice is truly blind.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • AlanMichael

      Excellent Point!

      September 28, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. TypicalPastySkin

    Typical pasty skin. If a pasty skin isn't cheating, they're not trying. Enter Bill Belichick.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Beej

    Well what were his scores?!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Nate

    Obviously the test scores shouldn't count, but I don't see how taking a test administered by a private organization for somebody else is a criminal offense.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • AlanMichael

      What difference does "who administered the test" make? You sign a legally binding form saying you are who you say you are.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. stefan

    Cnn show more of protest at wall street , that's something real to talk about.....

    September 28, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Peanut M&M

    This happened in Shameless on Showtime, but the price was a lot lower. With a fee of up to $2,500, the kids' parents clearly knew.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ecb1030

      Clearly? Not necessarily. I would've had no problems hiding that much money from my parents at that age. He's obviously a smart kid..

      September 28, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. AT

    keef

    so I guess our next step is to ban Affirmative Action???????? YAY!!!!

    ---

    You do realize that an ethnic minority group bears the greatest burden of affirmative action, right?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • BushClaps

      That's like saying cold air is a burden to Antarctica.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • AlanMichael

      he does not realize that, that is why he wrote such a ridiculous statement, what does AF have to do with the article?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ted Kennedy

    This is B.S. I never got arrested when I cheated at Harvard.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chuckles

    This is so wide spread and has been for years in California, i'm surprised this is the first time i've heard this. Very easy heist to do. I suggest, make the students take their SATs in their HS.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bates

    I wouldn't pay that goofy looking kid to take the SATs for me. If you have to cheat on your SATs, you shouldn't be going to college anyway

    September 28, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
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