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. Hooligan

    Our education system is a joke to begin with and "cheating" is sadly but truthfully the true way of how to get ahead in this country.

    Don't like the kinds of kids that are being forged by our schools? This might be a hint to the future as most of these kids would have been over qualified for any job and still not risen in a job market unless they cheat, lie and steal..

    I'd be more upset over this if our education system was more worthwhile or if our job world did not often reward those who screw over others or lie to get ahead... all these kids did is what most who pass the fair way will be doing in 4 years anyway.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sara B

    I however don't agree with how these kids were pointed out. High scores and low-GPAs? That's not exactly an anomaly...but I guess seeing it six times would inspire one to question this. Still, however, there are students who are better test takers than others...Isn't that what the SAT is designed to measure? Test taking ability?!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A Teacher

    if honest high school kids should be kept out of colleges they like because of cheating, then it stands to reason that smart white students should not be kept out of their preferred college becasue of racial quotas still in place at many schools, and where less qualified students are let in simply becasue of race.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Teacher

      BULLSEYE !!

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

      Geez, not another reverse racism charge. Let's see... affirmative action, which by the way, statistically has been of greatest benefit to white women, has been around since the seventies, which since the eighties is being used as a factor less, and less as time goes by is the reason that a majority of whites do not get ahead in society...spare me.
      If you could trade places with a person of color, for a decent education, and many of the imagined "perks" that come along with it, I highly doubt you would.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caborican

      @ A Teacher- I can see why they need affirmative action. With white teachers like yourself who can't even spell the word "because",not once but twice, I would be concerned that the whites are the ones getting into colleges with no qualifications. Just saying...

      September 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sburger

    If you're not cheating you're not trying.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas installs an express lane for Capital Punishment

      I like it. Isn't winning and getting our way at all costs, all that matters??? Just ask the local Prosecutor in your town about conviction rates vs truth and justice, what does he concentrate on???. This country is Jacked Up!!!!!! Its Osama Obama's fault!!! I can't wait until 2012 when we kick him and his Mother-In-Law out of the White House!!!!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Texas is a troll...

      September 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. coldfury91

    That was in response to rob.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Buckaroo

    I think every Senator and Congress man/woman should take the SAT before they go into office and must have a passing score of 1500......oh wait, they all CHEAT!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Samuel Eshaghoff

    Um, who cares?!?! I allegedly cheated for these kids on the SATs. Big deal. I didn't cheat, even if I did....Our government is a bunch of cheating, lying thugs and they never get punished. Why do you all want to punish me for allegedly taking a test and making a little money?

    Give it a rest folks. Don't hate the player, hate the game!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      You were underpaid for your services.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Samuel Eshaghoff

    Um, who cares?!?! I allegedly cheated for these kids on the SATs. Big deal. I didn't cheat, even if I did....Our government is a bunch of cheating, lying thugs and they never get punished. Why do you all want to punish me for allegedly taking a test and making a little money?

    Give it a rest folks. Don't hate the player, hate the game!

    Nuff said.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sara B

    We should stone these kids in the townsquare!

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

      Jesus you witch

      September 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Noah

    Put him in jail? No, send this guy to the CIA spy school – sounds like he has some rough talent that could easily be shaped and trained for the better of the US.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Well Matin Emouna is about to get handed his a_ _ in court. The notion that this activity should be waived from the court system as some type of academic prank is not only short-sighted, but is going to backfire in a very grand fashion. This is a crime no different that committing fraud under any other premise for the purpose of monetary gain. Furthermore, the students who paid the defendant are complicit as well and should likewise be charged.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Prison for cheating on a test? Kathleen Rice can lock him up in her basement cause I'm not paying for that craziness.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AmericaIsBasedOnCheating

    What a dishonest indictment BY LAWYERS... the #1 cheaters in America. They lie, commit fraud, and deny rights and due process protected by their "god father" DOJ. Who are they kidding? Now, they expect kids not to cheat? Try setting an example you frauds.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr. Gooding

    my test score was so bad, the instructor paid me money not to take again...

    September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    Education system like health care & infrastructure is in a sad state of affairs. While we prosecute wars in far off lands bleeding to bankruptcy.
    We are now what No.14 among world nations on the education scale?

    September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
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