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. Does IT matter

    Does it really matter???? If the kids get into college,graduate, work and pay taxes? Hell, if they are productive citizens. The damn test isn't a fair representation of any ability to succeed any damn way!!! It is a gate keeper that shouldn't exist to start with. Good GPA,payment, or proof of inability to pay- should be the college entrance requirement. At least it wasn't the driver's test which could cause accidents giving a license to someone who can't drive!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Josh

    I attended the CUNY system in NY. The quality of education was very poor, professors were useless. The cost was dirt cheap, so you pay for what you get. I was struggling to earn decent grades but most of the time I ended up with a b or c letter grade for my classes. Then I transfer to a prestigious private college in NY. This college is well recognized and the tuition is a bit expensive. Now I am doing less work and earning higher grades. Can someone explain this/

    September 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • H. E. Vincent

      College shopping and got what you really wanted?
      No hassle- easy classes- profs that know you're on the hook for a bunch of dollars and are under pressure for you to "succeed".

      September 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I am a graduate of the SUNY system, and had quite the opposite experience. At the end of the day, college is what you make of it...

      At the end of the day, you go to school to get a job...and the fact that graduates of CUNY and SUNY are sitting next to your "private college" peers after graduation, speaks for itself.

      One exception...CUNY and SUNY graduates will have a quarter of the debt that you private college folks have when they graduate...

      September 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      Actually better professors teach better and are easier to learn from. This is almost always happens when you get them.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • American Man

      This whole system of "standardized testing" is a SHAM. It proves nothing. Nothing at all. These tests are ridiculous and our kids are suffering as a result.

      Bring back Essay only tests or Essay plus fill-in-the blank tests. Tests that actually require kids to THINK rather than regurgitate. Math tests should also be "Word Problem" only.

      You're probably doing better in the school you are in because the teachers are actually... TEACHING instead of trying to pass stupid state requirements through testing.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      I also attended a CUNY college, but I found it to be excellent, and I later got into Harvard for graduate school. I think that a lot of it depends on the student.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      @Steve People pay more for Private college SUNY schools for a reason. SUNY schools quality of education just flat out sucks. You sit in a class with hundreds of other students with little to none interaction with the professor. Private schools have smaller classes, you get more help if you need it, and you learn more. I went to SUNY Albany (Worst school ever_ and then transfered to Siena, and the difference was inredible.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Jake knows what im talking about. its not like i didnt tried while i attended CUNY. the education is very poor.

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

    huh, smart kid. stupid, yet smart. i'd hire this guy as a business man.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      That says a lot about the kind of business you run.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conan the Librarian

      Congratulations – you are now officially part of the problem. Let me guess you cheat on your income taxes – your spouse and anyone else that you can fraud.
      Let's hope you don't have any children as they are just white collar criminals in waiting.
      Go get your moral compass fixed !! You are a waste of carbon – maybe you should move to Greece.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. FightForEducation

    I just want to say unless you are an ethnic minority in America you have no clue the path that some minorities take to get to the point where they take the SATs and get accepted into a university. Many minorities who live in urban cities are not provided with the same education afforded to those who live in the suburbs. In urban communities there are children that do not have books, but you hear of schools in suburban communities handing out iPads to 1st graders. Are you telling me that this is not the start of inequality when it comes to the education of children? Therefore, how can you expect these children to be on the same playing field 12 years down the line, when one group didn't even have books. It makes no sense. I believe that we must understand the 'why' and start looking there. Yes, there are policies in place that many don't like, but they are there for a reason. It will not be until we address the reason the policies were needed that we will be able to eliminate them.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • GvilleT

      FightForEducation...it's not a race issue. It's a money issue. Those 1st graders handed an ipad were not all white. They didn't refuse them to children of different races. It's all about the money. True, most your inner city children are minorities. But still, it's all abou the money.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lauren123

      Did you even read this article or are you aware your post is completely irrelevant to the context?

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

      My posting was a response to multiple others who commented and brought up the topic in their comments regarding college admissions and SATs. Did you only read one comment, there are 12 pages worth in case you didn't know?

      September 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devon

      And what about the blacks and Hispanics that go to suburban public schools? They get the same books, the same teachers, the same access to help and support, yet they STILL perform worse than their white and Asian peers. You can cry racist all you want, but the numbers don't lie. Blacks and Hispanics perform worse than white and Asian students and it's a proven fact. Whether it be a physical thing like blacks and Hispanics have a lower IQ or the like or just bad parenting or a weak family support system isn't known, but it's proven blacks and Hispanics perform worse in school. And you can't just pull the "blacks and Hispanics go to worse schools" card since it's the same in suburban, quality public schools. Trust me, I went to one and blacks and Hispanics don't perform any differently.

      Of course there are exceptions where there are absolute genius blacks and Hispanics, but it's the exception rather than the rule.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Well, maybe those parents should of thought more about whether or not they should have kids in the first place...If you can't afford them, don't have them...Minority or not.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nsiteful

    I'm sorry, I misinterpreted the rules!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. maes

    This is hilarious, I'm a little concerned over the whole felony charges for cheating on a test thing however. The SAT is a joke anyway, the top end schools, at least back in my day, required 3 or so SAT II tests for serious consideration. The SAT and ACT were just preliminary rounds.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. A HARD MEMBER

    TOO BAD HE WASN'T BLACK OR HISPANIC. THAT'S WHERE THE TRUE DEMAND FOR CHEATING ON TESTS WOULD BE

    September 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sean

    Let's get something straight: It's not racist to state that minorities get into ivy schools with scores that wouldn't get you into a junior college, that's a fact. It gets even worse when we're talking about graduate school. There are poor black people and there are poor white people. I'm ok with affirmative action to some point for blacks because of what our country did to them, but hispanics? Hispanics just immigrated here, there was no segregation or slavery for them.

    The people that get hurt the most under affirmative action are minorities that are classified as "white" but don't get the benefit of being hispanic or black. I'm talking about Middle Easterners. Think about it.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • rdw

      actually legacies have much worse scores than minorities, so if you want to be outraged about unfair advantages that is where you should focus your anger. these legacies tend to be lily white and crazy rich.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • kev

      you are rigth white women benfit more from affirmative action then black do

      September 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GvilleT

    Maes, it's sounds to me like a bunch of rich kids just didn't want to go take the test and bought their way out of it. I'm just guessing.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Foxhunter

    How about arresting the 100+ teachers and administrators in Atlanta that were caught cheating? Bet you none of them get a felony.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • CuriousG

      Shhhh... Nobody wants to talk about that. Let's just sweep that under the rug.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. drogo, the stallion that mounts the world

    An enterprising young American...the Tea Party should love this guy!

    September 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sara

    Is this all that much different from, say Ivanka Trump's father-in-law and husband? Harvard received $2.5 million dollar "donation" right before the son's acceptance. Oh yeah, the family is quite wealthy and the school gets to pocket the money instead.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andrey

    Cheating on a test is now a felony? And people wonder why US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world...

    September 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sidewinder

      I hear you can get the death penalty in Texas for jay-walking...

      September 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. unowhoitsme

    Cheating on scholastic tests isn't anything new. As long as we have merit pay and job securtiy attached to test results, cheating on tests will always take place. Our local school district is always producing "miraculous" scores from kids that can't even read. Sad, our kids suffer at the hand of politics/teachers' unions. We'll continue to build more prisons, instead of quality schools. We've become a third world country.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    So he transferred to Emory University – for a business degree perhaps? Sounds like a future businessman and GOP congressional material to me.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
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