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. chris

    it's all the Zionists fault...

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

    this is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. thats what is wrong with our country.

    ~mating sounds of the liberal~
    get the governement involved, arrest 1000 innocent people so 1 guilty person doesnt get away.
    there is a whole in the college system for cheating, OH GOD WHATS THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO!!
    let me call 911, the government needs to help me pick dinner tonight and im short on time!!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Sherri

      Innocent people? You mean the 1000 who paid $1500 for someone else to take their test? THOSE innocent people?They don't sound so innocent to me. Sounds like a big bunch of cheaters. And what about the students who study and work hard to take the SAT? And maybe don't get as good a grade as these cheaters/liars? What if the cheaters get admitted to college based on a false test score. But no one is hurt, right? That's your way of thinking? Well, then THAT'S what's wrong with the country. People like you thinking this is OK. Makes me sick

      September 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      HOLE in the college system. Hole.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vermonster

      Is that a whole hole? No pun intended.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I didnt know you could go to jail for cheating.....I also didn't know this was nazi Germany or China....looking for ways to throw people in the clink.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      A conservative would execute 1,000 people whether they were guilty or not just to feel good that someone was punished.

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

      I don't have the body to make that much with a computer and a webcam...

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

      Lets fill our prisons with non violent criminals! Lets send this kid to jail so that when he comes out he'll have that on his record and never get a real job. He'll learn how to become more of a crook in jail and since he cant find a job he'll turn to a life of crime. Our jails are supposed to be rehabilitation facilities. Not places where we send kids to become career criminals.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex71

      Nobody is arresting innocent people – only people with more money than talent who thought they could buy success instead of working for it like everybody else. But then, that's the "conservative" way, isn't it? No wonder you called them innocent.
      Never mind there were 7 of them, not 1000 – but then you conservatives generally have trouble with facts.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      It's fraud plain and simple, and it's a slap in the face to those that actually do the work and prepare themselves for the SAT by working hard and doing the right thing. You are part of the problem if you can't see how damaging this guy's actions are.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      This should definitely not go to a criminal court. Yes, they are cheaters, but by golly you have cheated in your life before. Cheating is cheating. These students made a horrible mistake, slap them on the wrist and get on with your life. The only reason students cheat on their SAT's is because our society puts so much emphasis on it. If we didn't , like on state standardized testings, students wouldn't cheat. But you see teachers are held accountable for state standardized testings so they cheat. Don't blame the child , blame the system and the parent that didn't teach them right.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      they can quantify the value of a college education....therefore, they can put a dollar amount and call it theft from the students that didn't get in....with the more recent estimates that college grads tend to earn upwards of a million more over a career, that would be grand theft of roughly a million for each of those students...

      September 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • SUMC clutch

      See? If those kids didn't cheat and keep honest kids out of college then Josie could have gone to college and learned proper English

      September 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie

      Lindsey, nice post as a male from oversea's trying to exploit the US. Try a capital letter to start your sentence, and get an English keyboard. Is cash hard there? What score did you get in English? Oh wait you don't know English. And stop wasting our bandwidth!

      September 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • guiltybyactions

      LOL. Let me guess, either you had someone take the SAT for you or you didn't do well enough to get into a school of your choice.
      Learn how to spell or at least know the meaning of what you spell. Whole is all of something and hole is a lack of something. Maybe I can say that you have a "Hole" (misspelled intentionally) lot of knowledge...
      Your way of thinking, or shall I say lack thereof, is the culprit in society today. Lazy people, wake up...
      I feel bad for society and all those that were not accepted into the college of their choice because of these derelicts actions.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. erik

    cant blame them for trying to go to college which is something that is expected of them to do from everyone do what you have to do to futher your life

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

      how about if they "try to get into college" by studying, etc etc etc lets not make stupid excuses for people anymore, come on!!!!

      September 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      And who do they get to cheat to cheat for them in college when it gets tough?

      September 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      Sorry for the double "For cheats" Dyslexia don't you know. Needless to say, I never made it college.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • GRS62

      Yeah, and don't blame those bank robbers for wanting to buy a home and live the American dream. They're not hurting anyone.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Parev

    Let me get this. The guy who cheated on SAT might get 4 yrs of prison sentence, while the people on Wall Street who ruined the lives of many and the US economy get millions of dallars in bonuses!!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Funky-face

      Are you one of those people who doesnt have the slightest idea what is going on with the economy, but heard someone say, blame it on Wall Street?

      Also, I would be pretty disappointed with "millions of dallars" – whats a "dallar" anyway?

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

      Let us in on it Funky Face.....what REALLY happened?

      September 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Funky-face

    You have to be pretty dense to feel a need to cheat on the SATs.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jim

    Serves em right.My daughter sheds tears when she does not do well on a test.She works really hard to overcome her learning Challenges.

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

      Some will never overcome their learning challenges. Time to figure out what to do with those people.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex71

      You deserve to be proud of your daughter. She is the kind of American that made America #1. These cheaters in the article are the kind of American that has brought our nation to this sad state: spoiled, corrupt, lazy, and convinced that possession of money is 10/10 of the law.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Janet

    This man and the teens involved should be criminally prosecuted. The SAT has become a much more important aspect of college admissions these days. In California, the colleges are so impacted that high school seniors are having a very tough time getting into schools. Colleges realize that SAT scores are the great equalizer, as some high schools are much more rigorous then others.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • SUMC clutch

      Dumb broad. So if your kid cheats on a spelling test or a math test they should be locked up in juvie? Same thing. He just found a way to make money and we're going to label him as a criminal? Yes it was wrong to cheat but his actions did not cost anyone to lose money. The college will still get its share and they really don't care where the money comes from.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ann

    Ann Didelot

    September 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tony

    OH... Now everyone is upset at Capitalism!!! I guess the gov't didn't get their cut of his earnings.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mink

    Not everyone can be tops. Time to stop expecting EVERYONE to attend college. Expectations are so high, they're out of reach.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex71

      Time for every honest, hard-working American to be able to afford a decent, healthy life – whether they are college graduates or not.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mink

    All potential students should have to take a psychological test.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hank Hill

    don't hate the player – hate the game.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Vern

    Here he is the next Bernie. Put him in jail and learn some real wall street skills

    September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Martoon

    He needs to go to criminal court because (1) he took money for cheating (a lot of money) and (2) he hurt other students chances for admission. This pathological moron will likely do no jail time, but perhaps he should have to do 1,000 hours of tutoring high school students???

    September 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. D

    Where the hell did these kids even get that much money to pay this boy in the first place?

    September 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      maybe they had a far as I am aware, students can get a work permit as young as the time I was a HS senior, I had saved over $40k....if I wanted or needed to cheat on the SATs, $1,500 would have been but a drop in the bucket...but when I was in HS, I was probably making more than your welfare check...

      September 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex71

      If Rob really saved $40,000 by the time he was a HS senior (assuming he was working at age 14, which he seems to have his own doubts about) then he was making around $10,000 per year after taxes. So was he attending school while working the night shift for federal minimum wage at age 14, or (more likely) was he on the payroll at Daddy's company in an "advisory capacity"? Cute, too, how people like Rob always assume everyone else is on welfare. Classy.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      you are obviously from a place with lower standards....

      September 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
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