A student from Long Island has been accused of taking the SAT exams for other students in exchange for cash payments.
Sound a little like the opening scenes of USA Network’s new television show, Suits?
Unfortunately, this is no fictional plot. 19-year-old Sam Eshagoff, a graduate of Long Island’s Great Neck North High School, has been arrested along with six other current and former students, according to Nassau County prosecutors.
Eshagoff allegedly impersonated six students between 2010 and 2011, charging between $1,500 and $2,500 each to take the SAT exam for them. He was able to get away with the deception by registering to take the test at different high schools and providing fake identification. He’s been indicted on felony fraud charges that carry a sentence of up to four years in prison, if he is convicted.
The six students accused of paying for his services, whose names are not being released because they are minors, are all facing misdemeanor charges.
“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, according to FOX News.
Eshagoff, who graduated from Great Neck North in 2010, is now enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta after attending the University of Michigan for his freshman year. His attorney, Matin Emouna, said his client has pleaded not guilty to the charges of scheming to defraud, criminal impersonation and falsifying business records. He also maintained that 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.”
So how did authorities nab the cheaters? The giveaway was “large discrepancies between [the six students'] academic performance records and their SAT scores,” said Rice. Administrators were then able to track the tests to Eshaghoff after a handwriting analysis.