Seven current and former students of a Long Island high school have been arrested for their alleged roles in a cheating ring that paid a college student thousands of dollars to impersonate students and take the SAT for them, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that between 2010 and 2011, six students at Great Neck North High School paid Sam Eshaghoff, 19, of Great Neck, to take the SAT for them so they would achieve a higher score.
Eshaghoff, now a student at Emory University and a 2010 Great Neck North graduate, accepted payments of between $1,500 and $2,500 per student, Rice said.
Eshaghoff, who completed his freshman year at the University of Michigan, was arrested Tuesday and is charged with scheme to defraud, falsifying business records and criminal impersonation.
He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of all charges.
The six students who allegedly hired Eshaghoff, all from Great Neck, were also arrested Tuesday morning and face misdemeanor charges.
They are not being identified due to their ages and the nature of the charges.
Eshaghoff's bail was set at $1,000 bond, and is due back in court Oct. 11. The six students were all released on their own recognizance.
Rice said that early this year, Great Neck North High School faculty members heard rumors that students had paid a third party to take the SAT for them.
Administrators at the top-ranked high school identified the six students by reviewing records of pupils who had taken the test at a different school and had large discrepancies between their academic performance records and their SAT scores.
The students registered to take the test at a different school where their faces would not be known to the proctors, while Eshaghoff presented unofficial identification with his photo and the paying student’s name on it.
He also took the test at no charge for an eighth student.
On at least one occasion, Eshaghoff flew back home from college primarily to impersonate two students and took the SAT twice in one weekend.
The DA’s Office is investigating whether similar SAT scams have occurred in at least two other Nassau County high schools, as well as allegations that Eshaghoff took the SAT exam for students of other high schools.
Educational Testing Service (ETS), the non-profit organization that administers the test, told prosecutors that it conducted its own investigation of the matter, but was unable to provide some investigation documentation to prosecutors citing a computer crash.
ETS does not notify colleges or high schools when students are suspected of cheating, but instead cancels their scores and offers suspected cheaters a refund, a free re-test, or the opportunity to arbitrate.
"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.
"These arrests should serve as a warning to those taking the SAT this Saturday that if you cheat, you can face serious criminal consequences," she added.