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. jay in florida

    Something is fundamentally wrong with people who put criminals on a pedestal simply because they made money cheating the system. I wonder who these people send to congress as their Representatives???. No wonder New York still has Charlie Rangel as congressman.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. bob

    wall street cheats and fleeces people out of millions everyday, Obama has let them all walk free, and yet this kid faces 4 years prison time? what's wrong with this picture?

    September 28, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      While I agree that more should be done to regulate financial markets to avoid wall street taking risks on the back of faceless millions and dumping the risks when it goes wrong while still getting paid.....I don't think it has much to do with whether or not this is wrong and the kid deserves punishment. And he does.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Rell

      He's not facing a conviction for cheating, it's for fraud. -__-

      September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Ola

      @Bob, what an ignorant statement! Kids like these, who are made to believe that there's nothing wrong with cheating, are those that ended up on Wall street, often cheating their way through college and depraving hard-working, intelligent kids the spots they deserve. People then wonder what's becoming of America!

      September 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      last I checked, Obama isn't the atty general or a prosecutor of any sort....Obama hasn't "let" anyone walk free...it simply isn't his place to fix every problem...you might as well ask the manager of the closest McDonald's to balance the national budget...it's just as much NOT his job...

      September 28, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Ola

      @Rob, what jargons are you blabbing? What has Obama got to do with this? Some people just don't think before making incoherent comments!

      September 28, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      @Ola, perhaps you should try reading the entire conversation to see how my REPLY has relevance....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Ola

      @Rob, now I get you! We are on the same page. You should have indicated whose comments you were responding to.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jds80130

      what is wrong with the picture is the typical idiots attempt to use one wrong as an excuse for another.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blue Man

      Rob are you really comparing our President to someone who works at McDonalds? I don't expect Obama to have all the answers to everything but his job is to run our country. That means dealing with something or someone who might be having a major negative impact on our country one way or another.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jimbo

    Don't send him to prison, let him go straight to law school he will fit right in.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • jimboisanidiot

      Jimbo, you're an idiot! Who do you think prosecute and defend people like this kid?...Lawyers. Same for the judge who will preside...also a lawyer.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • real_personn

      ha ha ha ....or wall street....

      September 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      you don't have to be a lawyer to become a judge....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rafael

    People ask what's wrong with America. America sees cheating as a glorified act of Capitalism. Don't complain when your politicians and representatives cheat you out of your money with property taxes and employment outsourcing. It is, after, Capitalism.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Thats kind of a simple way to look at it. Should the politicians tax individuals (property and income tax which you think is wrong) or if not that, then corporations (and higher taxes on corporations will lead to more cost cutting and therefore outsourcing). So if you cannot tax individuals, and you cannot tax corporations, then the alternative is no tax, which would mean we would go further into debt. I guess we should do it all on a huge sales tax, but you'd probably whine about that too.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. GDI

    Congrats, on the basis of your SAT scores you are hereby admitted to the School of Hard Knocks....

    September 28, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    If it were to get into an MBA in finance program, they would have been accepted and been able to test out of advanced defrauding with a transcript grade of B- and told to do better next time.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tina

    What the hell happened to our country? Sending kids to prison for cheating on tests? This is RIDICULOUS!! Punish them, sure. But PRISON? This country incarcerates 4 times more people then ANY other country.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      I agree that we over-incarcerate, but in fairness, they are only sending the ADULT who committed multiple frauds to jail. The six kids who can afford to pay thousands for a test taker will certainly have a good enough attorney that they never smell jail.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dan K

    In high school I tutored a kid in math. He was taking freshman math (Algebra 1) as a senior and was a intelligent as a box or rocks – yet his SAT score was 1250 (compared to the 1150 for me). He told me he struggled with math but did really well on the reading part (I guess he didn't realize a perfect score in comprehension was 800). Of course, his test was taking at another school and eventually was thrown out due to suspected cheating.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hank Irelan

    Wall Street the teacher is no longer a business but a subsidized scam, wonder how many of the cheaters are going to be brokers?

    September 28, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Millie

    Because all the cheaters are from "good", rich neighborhoods, you people bring Charles Rangel and Obama into it. These kids screwed up. Deal with it!

    September 28, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. tom

    Its said he only helped 6 people on their sat but knowing the neighborhood where this happened i wouldn't be surprised if it was way more people or if the parents knew about what their kids did..The neighborhoods around their school are of wealthy but not so smart people...

    September 28, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      He could only take so many test since there are limited dates and he can only take one at a time. However, if anyone actually thinks he is the only one doing it, I can get you a great deal on a bridge over ion Brooklyn.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. NGRELLO

    I found it hard to believe that parents were not involved. What high school student has $1500 to $2500?

    September 28, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      You are probably right, l though a couple of those kids may have had that kind of personal cash flow. Consider the neighborhood.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I am more interested in what it says about you that you think $2k is a lot of money...especially for people that have NO expenses like bills, rent/mortgage, etc....ALL of their income is likely disposable to be used however they see fit...When I was in HS, it would take me about a month to save $2k....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. The Dude

    Tests are lame. They should look at a students educational career.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      One if the original reasons for these tests is that you cannot always trust the school transcripts either.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. momo0828

    I believe the only reason they went after this kid is because he made money and they, (the authorities), did not get their cut. Money is the greatest influence for a college degree. If you were a successful entrepreneur like a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Michael Dell, those colleges would solicit money from you to fill their coffers and give you an honorary degree. Or you can just become an athlete that is gifted and be exploited by the system while the NCAA sanctions you for a friend buying you a Double Whopper w/ cheese because you are hungry.
    I have seen this going first hand for many years where a recent college graduate is complexly clueless only to discover that their girlfriends or wives did all of their work for them. I can’t say that I blame them especially if the results of a college degree benefit them.
    While the prosecutor and school points have merit, I know when times get hard and tuition from new enrollees decrease because of our stagnant economy, these same folks will conveniently look the other way or lower the standards so they can make money because as far as I am concerned, college today is nothing more than a business proposition.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      No they went after this kid because the collegeboard (who runs the SAT) probably financed the investigation/prosecution (or at least greased some palms) because their business model relies on there being an objective test which ranks students. Whether or not that is true, big prosecutions like this that make headlines make them seem "tough on cheating"

      September 28, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • US Citizen

      Jack,

      Collegeboard extorts money from every student they can. They should be investigated for fraud and their financial relations with schools and employees. Interesting how schools quickly defer to this third party company, but claim no relation.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      Crikey, another conspiracy theorist. Things slow on the Birther front? 9/11 as an inside job campaign dragging?

      And pray tell, which "authorities" didn't get their "cut"? Do you really have any self-awareness as to how disconnected from reality these loony-tune comments make you appear? But, then again, you don't really care, do you?

      It's time again for you to put on the aluminum chapeau and wait to receive more insights from your handlers.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ArtInChicago

    There is balance in the universe. It all catches up with you.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      the balance is called Affrmative Action

      September 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
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