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. Sammy

    I'M GUESSING THIS IS THE WHITE VERSION OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

    September 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cythara

      ...or the Jewish one.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DesMoiner

    This is a civil matter, not a criminal one. The jack-booted, armed, government thugs should keep their noses out of it.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jds80130

      Right. As if you even know what a "civil" matter is. Oh....you are one of them. That figures.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lavaadv

    the one time it wasnt a member of the teacher's union doing this they put his picture up in the article. typical communist news network. report on the other hundres where teachers knowing they wont (or hoping they wont) get fired because of their union status take the short cut.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jds80130

    It is a pretty expensive "education" to pay for just to get out of school pretty much a useless idiot who won't hold a job for more than 6 months before someone figures out that they are illiterate. Kids today really do expect everything to be given to them. they think the whole world owes them something. Unreal

    September 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • raker

      Why such a negative view on young adults? I have to disagree here, As a "kid" I don't expect things to be just given to me. If there are those out there that do, they probably learned it from their parents. Also- I don't think colleges would graduate an "illiterate" person...just saying

      September 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      People have been cheating on tests since there were tests. The only thing that changes are the methods.
      The real problem is that the lax security makes cheating too easy. The temptation is too great.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uhhhh

      Sounds like jds80130 is a disappointed and bitter old man who's angry at those who still have their whole lives (and therefore limitless potential) in front of them. I am by no means a kid (I'm actually old enough to start doing this types of rants) - but I know that jds80130 got it backwards. It is the previous baby boomer generation that was spoiled rotten! They could do that whole s3x, drug5 and Rock and Roll thing, go live the unemployed hippie lifestyle, join a cult, experiment with a trendy religion, etc., all paid for by mommy and daddy's money, yet everyone of them who wanted to get a stable job for life eventually could. Compare that with today's kids who have to start working (or at least interning) since high school just to get a decent chance at securing a short-term job after they graduate college. And you say they're spoiled? Are you kidding me?? (yes, I am responding to someone's rant with a rant of my own - I'm a hypocrite)

      September 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThisKid

      As a young adult, I would like to clarify that I know that nothing is ever going to be simply given to me or the rest of my generation. Social security is going to take my money, but by the time I'm old enough to withdraw my share, there will be nothing left. My parents have their own problems to deal with, and it would be selfish of me to try to live off of them for the rest of my life. My government actually doesn't care at all about my views because at the end of the day, I'm just one vote.

      So, contrary to your claim, we know that nothing is ever going to be handed to us, but since we have nothing to lose, we at least try.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • college grad

      To jds80130, I just spent alot of money on what one would consider an "expensive" education. But contrary to your rant I am indeed not illiterate. And I don't expect much to be handed to me nor did I have much handed to me. 5 years of college for an engineering degree with 0 financial help from any family, totaling over $150,000. Mostly to scholarships, and loans. now I am making by myself more then the national average for a whole family's income. So as far as being a "useless idiot" I think you really need to think things through before you spat off your two cents.

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

      How old are you? A Baby Boomer I presume. Why would you talk about the youth in this country when it is the previous generations who have screwed up the economy so badly. These youngsters will be paying for the rest of their lives and may well be living in a country that has lost its first rate standing in the world because of people like you.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ELRUSHBO

      Sounds like you just described the dummycratic party.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ConCerned

    All the excuses to cheat have blown me away... Been tryin' to tell everyone our problems do not stem from a promiscuous society, but one that has come to view honor & character as trite trifles to be sneered at. Like my mom says, they get it from their parents.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JJ

    Please-this has probably been going on for years and just got uncovered now....our youth are wreckless

    September 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      No, not just "now uncovered"...it has happened before...right– long before the Internet...
      Yet– some "never learn"... unfortunately. Money– root of (some) evil.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HNl

    Can't blame the kid. He's a business man. He's simply providing a service. Blame the stupid testing system. SAT has never been and will never be a bench mark for intellectual. I personally know lots of ultra bright people that didn't do well on the SAT.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pebbles Flintstone

      Wow! We shouldn't blame the kid, but the system itself? It seems to me that you think it's okay for this guy NOT to be held accountable for his actions because there are flaws with the testing system. Thinking like yours is part of the problem.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrsims

      You certainly can and should blame the kid.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      Bull to HN1 who says one "can't blame the kid; he's a business man...providing a service"...
      Must blame the kid...and the others involved.... it isn't fair to those who ACTUALLY STUDY / PREPARE for the exam...
      In the US - there are Laws / Rules..... if you don't want to abide by them, whatever they may be...then move.
      The kid... is a bad businessman... because any good businessman / person knows when to walk away... and that dishonesty doesn't pay...

      September 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • bg

      how well a student does on the SAT is not the point, the POINT is that each student ACTUALLY takes the test for him or herself! and NO, it is not the fault of the SAT that these CHEATERS chose to cheat and finally got caught-they made the CHOICE to cheat and now the law should make the choice to punish them and not just the 19 yr old

      September 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      @Peace – Obviously, politics is not something you've followed. "Dishonesty doesn't pay". Really? Welcome to earth, you'll probably hate it here...

      September 28, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hokahey

    I'm sure these students will find lucrative careers on Wall Street. It's only "stealing" money if you get caught.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pete

    Big deal. ETS is a scam, too.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Peace

    I work as a (Contractual) Testing instructor– I've been doing this many years.
    I've never disqualified anyone, but I've come close.
    Bottom line: Cheating isn't fair to the students who have actually studied / prepared for the exam (or wing it, on their own). Nor to the instructor who also prepare to present confidential testing sessions, without conflict.

    (I've also been on the receiving end; I too took the SAT / ACTs... so I understand the pressure – but one studies / prepares and does his / her best... this is one of Life's lessons... in whatever we (aspire) to do... Do "YOUR" Best).

    September 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Siobahn

    I can't believe people are acting like this is big news. This has been going on forever. We had a doctor in a hospital I worked in and the story went his father paid someone to not only take his exams for him but also paid someone to take state boards for him IN ANOTHER STATE..because he was too stupid to pass state boards. He truly was for when he came to work in our hospital we used to marvel at his stupidity and shake our heads at how stupid he was and we banded together and swore we were no longer going to cover his sorry azz in the ER. We didn't either and the truth finally came out about him and he was canned and ended up in one of those *Doc-in-a-Box* clinics down in Florida. It has been going on forever and will continue to go on forever, not just SAT's but any place that one must take a test...whether it be SATs, or boards. and I know I am going to be raked over the coals for this (I don't care) but as far as African-Americans and Asians go..you do have the edge......for you really do look a lot alike. Go ahead, blast away. Like I give a damn.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      You're right, you will be raked over coals. Your blatant racism is astonishing. If you look at statistics instead of using your bigoted and wrong beliefs, you would know that you are incorrect. This problem has been present over the course of many years, but is not limited to any specific ethnicities.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeanette

      You are correct.......100%.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • John R.

      Sorry but I agree with Siobahn.....and she offered to let you rake her. That is 2 to 1 I guess.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Peace

    I'm supervising the SAT this Saturday morning... I have never had a cheater in my class...
    To those taking the exam this Saturday morning...if you're in my class... be assured, I take pride in my work; I do my best to assure a confidential / fair testing atmosphere to all. And, if I didn't care that you do well– trust me, I'd stay home and just sleep in. Good Luck Everyone.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CB

    I know people that not only cheated their way through HS, but also college. Unfortunately cheating is part of the academic culture and many never get caught and eventually lead a successful life.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ytuque

    You should see how much fraud their is in testing in Korea. There are companies openly advertising about their services to students wanting to study in the US to include cheating on exams and even having someone write university application and essays.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Korean

      But I dont see how the academies are o

      September 29, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • A Korean

      I agree that people cheat, but I dont see how academies in Korea are advertising blatantly. I start to wonder on what basis you said.

      There's gonna be black markets and dirty jobs behind the scenes in everywhere. Do you not believe that the governments try to the max for justice?

      How about other foreign countries? ... Just talking bad about my country makes me feel bad.

      September 29, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. lily

    those of you that complain about my generation forget who raised it.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
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