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. pokerherface

    Well at least we know how the UC Berkeley Repubtards gained admission.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. zlul

    I wonder if the clowns who wrote this article realize that colleges don't only look at your test scores...They might see you score high on the SAT but have a 2.0 GPA and take the kid with slightly lower test scores but a 3.0 GPA

    September 28, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • You're kidding right?

      Of course they look at your test score, idiot. It's one of the only honest grades you can get. It is very easy for a teacher to give you good grades for little work. Maybe you should go back to school cause your thinking sucks

      September 28, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • DN3

      Huh? 2.0 is a good example of teachers giving good grades for little work????

      September 28, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      "And he said cheating on tests is something that should be handled in schools, not in criminal courts." Wrong. They are causing financial harm to others, by ensuring that people that should be getting scholarships due to performance, are not getting their fair share of scholarships. Obviously these are intelligent, but slick and dishonest people. They could do MUCH harm as they enter their 20's, 30's, 40's, and beyond, in the business world. They need a hard lesson, and definitely need to be made examples of, for others. To the slammer for these guys!

      September 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DN3

      @Paul: You're absolutely right that the cheaters do end up doing harm to society. But the business world (esp Wall Street) is already packed with dishonest people who cheat. When has the business world been any different? Hey money is involved. Enough harm comes from genuinely bright people like Eshaghoff who legimately end up on Wall Street never mind the cheaters. And it usually doesn't take an unusually bright person to cheat and get away with it.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    "Honest kids should not be bumped out of college slots by kids who cheated," she said.

    OH what about all the kids who are bumped because of the rich daddy kids?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • cor

      Didn't you know? You're not allowed to cheat, but it's OK if you buy your way in.

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

      Amen to that. Or kids who are bumped because they are not a 'protected class'...

      September 28, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      ANYONE who gets bumped was a borderline student anyway...the top students don't get bumped for any reason, no way, no how, doesn't matter what their skin color might be doesn't matter what advancement programs are in place....if you get bumped, you should have aimed for more than the bare minimum....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. mag

    What about the kids who paid this guy? They should be thrown in jail just like this guy.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      mom and dad can afford top notch lawyers and i'm sure them being most likely white will play into it.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rich

    The entrepreneurial spirit at its best!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. sarah

    So, according to CNN, if you are denied a spot in the college of your choice because of someone who cheated the SAT, you are a victim. What if you are denied a spot because of someone less qualified than you received preference based on race?? Both cases involve a less qualified person being admitted on criteria that doesn't indicate merit.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • D.S.

      Sarah, I assume your a woman. Affirmative action works on the behalf of gender as well. Don't make comments based on race when gender can apply too.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Ola

      High and mighty Sarah, have you ever heard the adage, "To whom much is given, much is expected?" White kids have the advantage of being born to a race in which parents value education and encourage their kids right from an early age. Black kids don't have that privilege, therefore, a black kid that ended up scoring a medium score on SAT, might have well scored much higher if given the privileges of a white kid. That makes me wonder, ever thought of who was taking care of old aunt Sally's children, while she was working as a Nanny, caring for her white employer's kids?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Alphastupid

      Ok, then make some noise about eliminating this "privilaged" test altogether. It's a bigger issue than your "race" argument.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • let me get this straight...

      so, what you're saying is, it's a privilege to have parents that care about their children? also, that only white parents care enough about their children to encourage them to go to college? that is the biggest load of you-know-what i've ever heard.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eezyville

      Sarah are you saying that no minority is qualified for the job or something? Just because you're white doesn't make you qualified for anything. I've seen plenty of whites who aren't qualified for the job but get it anyway because they are white.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      Sarah i'm assuming you're white. What are you upset about. This is affirmative action for whites, if you're rich you can buy your way. Why did you not get in on this if you didn't. I'm guessing you were not rich enough. Well i just made a you know what out of myself. Silly me, I just assumed that being the superior race, you were all smart enough to be rich.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alan

    @Mormon; what's wrong with it? Do YOU want someone doing surgery on you who cheated or didn't go to class?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Doh!

    Smart kid

    September 28, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. mag

    Throw the 6 kids in jail and give his guy a job on wall street.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. Deborah

    First, what teenager has the much money to blow without their parents knowing? Aside from that cheating occurs at the college level even worse. I went to a state university who's well known football team would send in other students to take their exams. When I hear announcers brag about a college football player's GPA, its a joke. Unless the athlete is enrolled in a highly technical and scienfic major that is difficult to bluff their way through, the track and football athletes I knew only showed up for the first day of class.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      First, that isn't much money....second, HS kids don't usually have bills to pay so any income they might have from a job tends to be entirely disposable.....

      September 28, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. rob

    jay in florida, look at your Governor, moron.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. David

    Maybe the government should have a security department for this too... sounds like something Obama would do.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. DN3

    Ah cheating happens at all levels. Tons if people are where they are because of cheating. I personally have never cheated because I have pride but I heard of a person in my med school class who falsified reference letters.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      I always assumed it was just blacks who cheated.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rDS

    The article says ..."“Colleges look for the best and brightest students". Isn't that backwards ?? Colleges are places to get an education. Why do they want to only educate those who are already smart ? Should they not take on those who are NOT the brightest ??

    September 28, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. JUGGERNAUT

    PFFFFFFFFFFFF, THIS IS HOW WHITE KIDS GET A HIGH SCORE IN THEIR SAT, CHEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
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