‘Hire’ ed. cheating scandal
Seven Long Island teens were busted yesterday in a crafty SAT cheating scam in which one suspect charged thousands of dollars to take the exams for the others -- netting his customers some of the highest grades possible, authorities said.
Brainy Emory University sophomore Sam Eshaghoff, 19, and six other current and former students from prestigious Great Neck North HS surrendered to cops and were arraigned in Nassau County Court yesterday, hiding their faces in shame after the proceedings.
Out of a possible top score of 2400, Eshaghoff posted eye-popping numbers of 2220, 2210, 2140, 2180, 2180 and 2170 for the alleged cheats.
Most of the students forked over between $1,500 and $2,500 for Eshaghoff’s savant services.
And furious prosecutors warned that the arrests may only be the tip of the iceberg.
“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,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Eshaghoff, of Great Neck, used phony IDs to take tests for five young men and one young woman who had a gender-neutral name, Rice said.
All of the students paid Eshaghoff his fee -- except for the girl, who did not make a cash payment. It was unclear if another form of compensation was involved in her case.
The teens all signed up to take the tests away from their own school so their faces wouldn’t be recognized by proctors.
Eshaghoff would then show up with doctored New York state drivers licenses bearing their names -- but his photo.
Oddly, Education Testing Services, which administers the SAT for the College Board, does not notify colleges if a student is suspected of cheating. ETS simply cancels the suspect score and asks if the student wants to re-take the test.
School officials first heard of the cheating this year through rumors in the upscale school district.
The officials matched SAT scores to grade point averages, and noticed that the alleged cheats scored far higher than would be expected.
They also concluded that the handwriting on the written portion of the cheaters’ tests was all the same.
Ultimately, they found that it matched that of Eshaghoff, a 2010 graduate who played on Great Neck North’s football team.
Neither the DA’s Office nor the school district would identify the other six because they were under 19 when the alleged crimes occurred. They were released without bond.
Eshaghoff was charged with scheming to defraud, falsifying business records and criminal impersonation. Bond was set at $1,000 or $500 cash bail.
“Sometimes kids do things that are not in their best interest. I am still trying to figure out exactly what happened in this case,” said Eshaghoff’s lawyer, Matin Emouna.
The whiz kid, who spent his freshman year at the University of Michigan before transferring to Emory, faces up to four years in prison.
Copyright 2011 NYP Holdings, Inc.
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2011