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. More Cheatin' White Boys

    ...figures

    September 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sonya

    why does everything have to boil down to black or white? Give it a rest already!

    September 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. guarg

    An FYI for those who have questions who should be responsible for catching these guys. I read essays for AP exams for the college board. They do have procedures in place to catch this kind of stuff. In fact, several of those procedures were mentioned in the article. The scores I give on essays are compared to composite scores from other tests and large deviations are checked. It is used to ensure quality control on my performance and to check for cheating. Hence, the police probably used ETS data to catch the cheating.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • guarg

      whoops, should read 'questions concerning who'. Also, college board and ETS are related. CB makes the AP exam, ETS does the distribution/grading

      September 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mefive

    So they got caught here. What about high school and college students who pay someone else to do their homework, projects and term papers. I know a guy who went through 4 years of college and never wrote one term paper.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • thacheat

      Don't rat on me 🙂
      Now something from us cheaters. I hate to break this to you, but the system doesn't care about I.Q. I am an intelligent person, for my chosen career I am far above average if not in the bottom tier of the elite. I cheated to get here though, as my HS testing has nothing to do with my current job, but I needed that piece of paper. I needed it, I found a way to get it. That is responsibility rather anyone likes it or not.... Let the hate begin.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jds80130

      Cheating is about the quality of your character, not about the piece of paper. Punks and losers cheat in order to get something that they did not earn. They also have the same moral character as the typical street punk to uses the exact same reasoning to steal everything that it "needs".

      September 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ahn

    SAT's are a joke. Back when I was in high school, I couldn't figure out how some students were able to get into certain colleges knowing their academic history. I found out later they figured out a testing center that was so lax that everyone in the room was able to cheat. I think the proctor went in and out during testing. And then in college, I heard about high school students (with the help of their parents) recruiting college students to take their SAT's for a couple thousand. If I knew the "system" back then, maybe I could have gone to Columbia too.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ahn

      FYI, as far as I know..these "cheating students" have pretty good jobs and doing quite well in this economy in engineering, or science/computer tech jobs. The colleges they got into by cheating helped their resume a lot in getting those jobs. So in the end, if you do get away with it...it pays off. I, on the other hand, can't help but be a little upset because I played "fair".

      September 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Meyers Can

    A private school would have handled the issue internally. Stop wasting taxpayer dollars on this issue - it is between the testing centers, collages involved and the students.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Cube

      collages involved? Were you a client of his?

      September 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      I think you're fearing that they are more than likely white. You know if they were black or hispanic you would be spewing all type of ethnic hate.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • GrizzlyBaer

      Considering that your tax dollars go to subsidize state affiliated schools, I take it that you are OK with your tax dollars being used to help pay for students who cheated their way into college BUT don't use those dollars to stop the cheating and give an education to someone else who is more deserving??

      September 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Neil

    The SAT is absolutely meaningless anyway. Any college that actually determines intelligence off of this piece of garbage exam really doesn't deserve the intelligence they're missing out on.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • jds80130

      didn't score very high, huh?

      September 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • what's a girl to do

      Sounds like you should have studied before you took yours.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      I actually scored very high. Also, I would love to know what you mean by "study" for such a ridiculous exam. Perhaps by study you mean practice, and by this I mean sitting in the Department of Motor Vehicles waiting area for about six hours. Perhaps that will prepare for how long you'll be sitting in one place during this exam. Despite this, I don't think the SAT is a productive form of testing in any way shape or form. I maintain that the SAT is garbage.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Expert

    aadfafd

    September 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tm

    I guess this is a different type of affirmative action bake sale.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. will g

    HBO Shameless

    September 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duracell

      Not HBO Its Showtime.. Shameless...

      September 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChuckFromAL

      LOL – That's what I was thinking. Kid saw it on TV and thought he'd try his luck at it.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Smyth

    Put a thumbprint box on the test sheet.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George

    How do you think Republicans pass exams and make it to good schools.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sammy

    Damn these lazy blacks. Can't they do their own homework. Rich spoiled brats, you know their parents must be rappers cause how else these damn monkeys afford to pay to advance in life.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sammy

    I thought white kids didn't cheat and got where they are due to hard work and not the fact that their parents can afford to pay high amount of dollars for them to advance unlike blacks who have to depend on the government or affirmative action.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wes

    Thank the Lord public figures like George Bush did not get any special "favors" along his acedmic trek...

    September 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
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