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. John Thompson

    it's funny that this appears to be some revelation. I remember in 1983 I had someone ask me to take their exams for them. And it was VERY common for people to do so.

    10 years ago on the show friends Rachel said she paid someone to take her SAT'S. this is not a secret, new or anything else other than a crime.

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

    really? do the sat's even matter tht much anymore? jus go to community college then go anywhere, or if ur family has money you are set.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. saywhat

    i bet that makes you or your son/daughter feel better about their mediocre performance.... keeo telling yourself that

    September 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Deelanz

    Why is this criminal?

    September 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      You meaning why is committing fraud by using a fake ID to pretend to be someone else in an official exam a crime?

      September 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      He helped others by cheating on a high school test.. woo yea big time criminal. And completely worth to cost of imprisoning him for 4 years.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Trollling anyone?

      September 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • guarg

      It is not a high school test. It is a college admission test. Not knowing the difference (and seeing the connection to the tens of thousands in damages his cheating causes in ETS services and lost college entrance placement) shows how little you understand the topic. Go away and leave the conversation to those of us who can pass the exam.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Suzanne Robertson

    I live in Los Angeles County, California. I am Caucasian, as is my husband and my two daughters. I am a secretary. My two daughters (who are 100% Caucasian) got into EVERY university to which they applied. My youngest daughter applied to law school after finishing college and was accepted at each and every law school to which she applied. She went to law school on a 100% tuition scholarship for all three years of law school. Both of my daughters received financial aid and scholarships for their 4 years of college. I know of NO "white kids" who have been denied a place at college because they were passed over in favor of minorities. My daughters come from a "white" middle class family – as do their friends who applied for college application at the same time they applied – and my daughters and their friends ALL got into the good colleges of their choice. I think it is a myth that well-qualified and hard-working "white" kids are passed over for college admission in favor of lesser qualified minority kids.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      Then you have been duped. It does happen.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • L

      I work at a prominent university, and Suzanne, I can 100% GUARANTEE you that this indeed does take place much more than anyone realizes. Everyone here know it, but no one will ever talk about it because it is understood that "that's the way it is." You have indeed been duped if you think this doesn't happen.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Suzanne you are living in a bubble.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • bk

      You are just plain wrong. Your anecdotal evidence proves nothing. Look at admission numbers at ivy league universities, especially professional schools. You can have a low LSAT score but because you are a racial minority recieve preferencial treatment. look at lawschoolnumbers.com for some examples of self-reporting by minorities. Your post seems fake anyway.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • CmonNow11

      Wow – thanks for your life story, Suzanne – and this relates to the article about kids caught cheating on the SATs how??

      September 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • prayedUp

      white kids get into schools they arents qualified for because their parents are connected all the time...but dont mention what money can do for you right?

      September 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • puchis

      BS

      September 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      You're right Suzanne, if I had worked hard enough I might have gotten the Scholarship for Alaska Natives scholarship...

      September 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      why would prominent colleges want under qualified minorites when they know they are going to fail and only set the college back because of low graduation rate and most businesses wouldn't even want to hire kids coming out of that school seeing that they are just being passed over. it doesn't make any sense for a reputable school to do that. to all the ones who have been passed over by a minority i think it says alot about you cause more than likely it's a community college that is doing that and since you are the superior race shouldn't you feel you are better than a minority than to be competing at the same low level as them.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mit

    "authorities uncovered the scam after hearing rumors of cheating"

    I'm pretty sure the first rule of crime is that "YOU DON'T FCKING TELL ANYONE".

    September 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HB

    I'm somewhat surprised the SAT's still exist. Over the past decade, more and more colleges have been dropping their SAT requirement. One of the largest public systems, the California State University, has dropped it. Additionally, colleges that retain the requirement have been valuing it less and less. So save some students and parents some money by dropping it all together. It was never a good measure of potential success anyway.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dinak

    This is no different than when a college admits illegals. But the media is all for that kind of cheating to get in.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Riciculous post. An illegal who enters college has not cheated. End of story...your post is nonsense.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EgoSum Lamia

    SAT scores and college admissions are not a job guarantee. plenty of "intelligent" graduates are unemployed and would love a job at a big box store.
    Most are considered overqualified for a job.
    Do away with the SAT's.... they serve no purpose.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alientech

    This guy qualifies to work on Wall St.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • More Cheatin' White Boys

      ...another white cheater

      September 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Equestrianks

    Funny thing is that I wouldn't want to take those tests now and I have been out of school for 16 years. I have a great job that I love and make a good living but looking back at those tests would stress me out more today than they did back then. The tests only provide a baseline and bragging rights between the kids. Sorry to say but cheating happens all the time whether in a SAT test of a college class or a middle school class.
    I wouldn't want to be a child in school today because yes you have access to more information but I dont' feel that you learn the survive subjects that you did even 15 years ago.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. IndyJim

    Figures this cheater went to Michigan as a freshman. Arrogant rear ends, all of them.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PJRG

    The educational system is immensly flawed. Cheating is too easy and 99.99% of the time goes unpunished. Why do schools put so much emphasis on honesty when in the end, those who are honest are the ones who stay behind.. What schools do today is mass-produce cheaters. These go on to the workplace and occupy positions in society, and this is why our world is still so barbaric. We have people with a ponzi-scheme shaped brain running the world. The educational system must be re-engineered now.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Texas Crazy Man

    Sue, you don't get out much do you?? Its absolutely true, our wonderful Dems say it is good for all of us whities to be subjected to their cultures. Students of color are part of a diversity quota that universities go by which they can score lower on their SATs and receive grants and scholarships from hell and back and still be accepted over white students with higher scores. Understand our government says this is not discrimination!!! I wonder if us whities could get into an all black university if we applied??? What do you meeley mouth Dems think about that????? Oh, I forgot, we don't discriminate we just break the laws and do what we want.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      So are you for segregation in education or all of society?

      September 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Not Crazy Guy

      Wow, and what college did you go to? I am guessing you are an uneducated piece of white racist trash. You make our entire state look bad. You should take the great state of Texas out of your name so us civilized Texans can avoid the stereotype of toothless redneck idiots that you so eloquently displayed.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. former ACT Proctor

    I was an ACT proctor for several years and would catch someone cheating one way or another at almost every testing session.
    It's the teachers fault for letting them get away with it all these years.
    The students think the rules don't apply to them.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
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