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. Jennifer

    So, you found out by comparing test scores to their grade point average in school?? That shouldn't be a factor. Now the money and the fake ID's. The school should have your ID on file and when you present yours, it should match. We had to provide our school ID number and or SS # to be able to take the exam. The GPA/Test scores shouldn't matter. I received a 4.3 GPA in high school but when it came to taking the SAT, I received a C+ average. I also know of students who did horrible in school, but received an almost perfect score on their SAT's. These kids should be punished for false information like being suspended from school for a few weeks. They should be given another chance to take the exam and if they do horrible, then thats the way it needs to stay. Now are we going to blame the teachers or the parents for this?

    September 28, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • why not

      and yet we still protest voter ID?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Hmmm...how did you get a c plus on the SAT? I assume youknow its a numerical score. As for schools having students photos on file, many students dont take the exam at their own schools.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • mengineeroky

      If your school gives a GPA above 4.0, then it is a sign they are below the curve. Giving additional credit and weight to AP class is bogus. You got a C+ equivalent score on the SAT because you went to an easy high school.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeMazzla

      That is a total BS lie saying you know people who did horrible in HS but got almost perfect SAT scores. That is nearly impossible but even if if happened..im sure youy dont know more than one person that happened to as opposed to "people" if someone is gettig bad grades in HS they arent getting perfect scores on the SAT.

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

      Your GPA has more to do with schools inflating grades than you actually earning a 4.3. The SAT has been perfected over thousands and thousands of trials. You school has reasons to make you look smarter.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      How do you get a 4.3 GPA? When I went to school a 4.0 was a perfect score.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Many school districts started weighting honors classes on a 5 point scale LONG ago(more than 20 years ago)....it allows for the illustration of the difference between A's in remedial classes and A's in honors level classes....why take a more difficult honors English if your A in remedial English is easier to get and counts for just as much?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. keef

    "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"

    so I guess our next step is to ban Affirmative Action???????? YAY!!!!

    September 28, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • vmprophet

      how much dumber can you get. How are you putting Affirmative action and this story together? By trying to sound smart you just sounded really really stupid, you know why? Because by your statement I am assuming you are equating affirmative action with minorities, which is true in most cases, HOWEVER, does the guy in the picture look like a minority to you??? No, so who is he trying to help cheat their way into a better school? ill let you answer that one

      September 28, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Well you definitely failed logic. If A=B does not mean B=T. Just because there is cheating in this instance, has absolutely nothing to do with affirmative action.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      Keef most likely these students were white and upper class. We know blacks who are dumb more likely can't afford and wouldn't even pay top dollars like that for someone to take an SAT test for them. Wouldn't you agree.

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

    A shanda fur die goyim.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Charles

    All Good Scams have to come to an end

    September 28, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. wow

    wow Flashdog2...pulling the race card for no apparent reason.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. doug

    Hey, it is tough out there in the job market. The kid was enterprising. Criminal? Yes. But enterprising.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Big Fish

      Our banking firms are filled with such 'enterprising' people. Feel proud now?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mo

    It's wrong to cheat, but possible jail time?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. US Citizen

    Criminal charges is way over reaching and excessive intrusion by the governmen t (whoi needs to get a life). These tests are done by a private company with no affiliation with a school. If the schools would actually be involved in the testing besides being a front then maybe there would have been fraud against the government (publis school).
    otherwise it is no different than someone cheating (if it really happened) on an employment application.
    not fraud. just failure of ETS not being able to properly administer their test. if it really happened.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Big Fish

    Oh, those wonderful folks from Great Neck.
    No wonder why large proportion of them are overrepresented in our nation's top colleges.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ian

    He learned this on an episode of Shameless (HBO)

    September 28, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Big Fish

    Oh, those wonderful folks from Great Neck.
    No wonder why large proportion of them are overrepresented in our nation's top colleges.
    If i were the authorities I would collect their passports as they have a propensity to flee.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ian

    He learned this on an episode of Shameless

    September 28, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck Gaffney

    I was an honors student and all that supposed high esteemed junk, did very well on the SATs...but to be honest, the SATs are just as useful in the real world as those Moron Tests are on Facebook. Not condoning what was done but the SATs are a joke to begin with.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      going to college SHOULD be part of someone's REAL life and therefore, the SATs do impact the "real world"....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Corleone

    Screw the SAT! It doesn't mean jack! Do away with it already!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Considering the impact it has on college admissions, you'd have to be a moron to think it didn't mean anything....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. art

    he probably got the idea from the show "Suits"

    September 28, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
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