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. Foolish Fun

    Young people learn at a young age that only the results matter. Cheating on SATs is to be expected as teens and their parents would do anything to get into a top notch school.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    Arrested for "cheating" on a PRIVATE test? Banned, invalidated, etc. I could understand. The next thing will be fines/jail for not answering surveys correctly.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. shsssss

    Does everyone really think that this is something new? When I took my SATs in the '70s, we knew kids who took the test for other kids at different schools. Back then they didn't get paid that much if anything at all. Kids did it to help their firends. This has been going on for years, all across the country. It is wrong but happens. Don't know if they should go to jail. Getting kicked out of college and not being able to get into one is probably the best resolution.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    Rumors of cheating like this has been going on for decades. SAT was an easy test, and its sad anyone needs to cheat on it. I say prosecute them, it was horrible in college with so many dumb classmates who probably cheated on their SATs in a similar fashion who stayed up all night studying while I was trying to get some sleep for my 8 AM classes. If no one cheated college would have been more fun, less tripping over people studying at night because they were not up to speed on the college they got in to. At work its similar, when they cheat on their exams they lie on the interviews, and then its a whole mess firing them from work when they can't perform. Gotta teach children to be more honest.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • MannyHM

      I truly wonder on how we can teach folks to be more honest. I think we need the help of the devil to tempt them.
      During the interview, leave $100.00 on the chair where he or she is going to sit and make it appear as if somebody accidentally left it there. With a hidden surveillance camera, see on how he'll deal with that situation. Test like this or similar ones can be used to weed out those 'Ethically challenged." There had been so much emphasis on rewarding people with the best SAT scores from the best schools and totally disregarding the inner core of their moral character. What did we get ? We get people like Madoff, Enron folks, and others who are thieves & who truly believe that they can hang on to their stolen goods forever.

      September 29, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. JerkIt

    Hopefully he used the money to buy some acne medicine

    September 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. JerkIt

    Hopefully he used the money to buy some acne medicine

    September 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. The_Aviator

    Collegeboard itself is a big scam. They always release the previous SAT scores before the deadline to register to take the next SAT. I'm glad I'm done dealing with them.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. GT66

    There goes the government stepping on small businesses again!

    September 29, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Im just curious how good his scores where

    September 29, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • LettuceandTomatoes

      I was was looking at other articles on the same subject. He was getting people scores from 2140 to 2200s. So yeah, they were high top notch scores.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dina

    I guess this is the white version of affirmative action.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. MannyHM

    I know that sooner or later this cheating will surface. I blame SAT for not allowing enough deterrents to be in place.
    Use fingerprints, photo, and during exams use surveillance cameras. I'm certain that you don't want to deal with these cheaters to build your house and bridges, treat your illness, and to defend you in court as architects/engineer, physician, and lawyer. I would like to make a suggestion if the test papers are still stored, get 10 % at random of the test takers' fingerprint and see if the fingerprints match with those left in the test papers. It's quite easy to match fingerprints in paper.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. tsangwunk

    Does he do it for the GMAT test cuz I am stressin

    September 29, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Flasher9

    The kid was just making some cash.let's leave the kid alone and worry about the economy. Let the future wall street broker do his thing...

    September 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. alex

    just another reason why this test and all the other standardized test need to be banned. white students have been cheating on these test since forever. My Accounting Professor.....was probably one of them cause she actually said, "that ham was ham, not pork", in front of God and the class and got very angry we (even sadder) most, of us busted out laughing into tears. Wow.

    September 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Austin Tx.

    What about the kids who get excluded from colleges because of there skin color? If you are black or Hispanic applying to Wisconsin University you have a better chance of being accepted with lower test scores and class rank than whites and Asians. If the system is going to cheat them, why not cheat the system. The blacks and Hispanics have figured it out.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
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