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EXCLUSIVE: How The Long Island SAT/ACT Cheating Scam Works

Plot Involved Playing Test Scores Off Each Other; DA: 35-40 More Arrests Coming
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Samuel Eshaghoff escorted by police on Long Island on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Samuel Eshaghoff escorted by police on Long Island on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New details, exclusive to CBS 2, emerged Thursday about the broadening investigation into Long Island’s college admissions cheating scandal.

Reporter Jennifer McLogan has learned why multiple stand-ins took both SAT and ACT exams at multiple schools and how they got away with it.

A private eye and defense attorney have proof the cheating probe is widening.

“We’ve had other suspects contact us,” McLogan was told.

They were recently approached by new suspects — targets of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s ongoing college admissions exams investigation. The men already represent Great Neck North High School graduate Sam Eshaghoff, the accused mastermind of the impersonation-for-hire-scam.

When asked if Eshaghoff is involved in the widening scandal, attorney Matin Emouna said, “He is not involved in this widening scandal at all. He was just the poster boy for what had happened.”

Sources told McLogan that 35 to 40 additional students in at least five schools may have paid thousands of dollars to “stand-ins” to take not only the SAT, but also the ACT, a standardized test growing in popularity in our area.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story

McLogan has learned exclusively how both tests played off one another to catch the crooks.

Here’s how it worked: The SAT cheater would take a test for himself and get a low score. The second time the cheater would hire a stand-in, who, in turn, would get a high score. That discrepancy would be flagged and the test cancelled.

When that happens the cheater would switch to the ACT and hire a high-scoring stand-in from the start to avoid the flagging process.

The ACT would certify the single high score and colleges would receive only that score. The SAT score would be withheld by the student.

“Millions of kids take the SATs and ACTs every year. The message needs to be sent loud and clear: if you’re going to cheat you’re going to be caught and there will be consequences,” Rice said back on Oct. 20.

At a recent State Senate hearing security measures and lax oversight of the high stakes tests were blasted. The Educational Testing Service then brought in the former head of the FBI.

“It took this for this to hire somebody of the quality and high standards of a Louis Freeh to try to clean this mess up,” private investigator Les Levin said.

McLogan has learned the additional arrests will include students who paid others to take their tests, those who took the tests and the cash, and others who created fake IDs.

Nassau district attorney investigators are backing away from a specific time frame for arrests, as they wait for additional information from the ACT.

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