It sounds like a plot for the popular television show Suits: a smart kid making a few bucks by taking standardized tests for others. Sam Eshaghoff, however, is not a writer’s invention. He is a 19-year old New York college student who was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 by Long Island high schoolers to show up and take their SATs. The USA Today reports that Eshaghoff was arrested earlier this week, along with 6 others and charged with fraud and criminal impersonation, among other offenses.
Eshaghoff, who recently transferred to Emory University from the University of Michigan, is an alumnus of Great Neck North High School. Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney, said that between the years 2010 and 2011, Eshaghoff was hired by individuals from Great Neck North, on at least 6 different occasions, to show up and take their SATs. The students themselves aided in the deception by registering for the tests in different locations throughout the county in order not to be recognized by the test proctors.
Earlier this year, Great Neck North faculty members heard rumors that students had paid a third party to take the SAT for them, Rice said. Administrators then identified six students who “had large discrepancies between their academic performance records and their SAT scores,” the prosecutor said.
According to the MSNBC.com, the teachers at Great Neck North started hearing rumors that some students hired an impostor to take their SATs. The faculty put together the list of six students suspected of participating by comparing their grade point average with their test scores.
The giveaway was “large discrepancies between [the six students’] academic performance records and their SAT scores,” said Rice, reported FOX. She said administrators were able to track the tests to Eshaghoff after a handwriting analysis.
The Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test, has a policy of not notifying either colleges or high schools when it suspects students of cheating, and MSNBC reports that in this case they were unable to assist the prosecutors because of a computer malfunction. In cases where cheating is suspected, the company refunds the test fee to the student and cancels the test score.
Great Neck School District released a statement saying it “does not tolerate cheating” and remains “committed to cooperating with law enforcement in the matter.