NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Long Island teen at the center of the SAT test scandal says greed got the best of him.
Sam Eshaghoff, 19, was the first person charged last year with taking college entrance exams for students in exchange for cash. He talked exclusively to “60 Minutes” about his scam, how he got involved and how easy it was to pull off.
“I thought that there was an easy way to make money. And just like any other easy way to make money, it’s always too good to be true,” he said.
Prosecutors call Eshaghoff an academic gun-for-hire, taking college entrance exams for other students.
“It all started with some kid approaching me. He’s like, ‘Yo, you’re good on your SATs and I’m not. And you know this is possible so how much is it going to take’?” he said.
Eshaghoff says taking the test for someone else was as simple as making a high school ID.
“I took the template from my high school ID, pasted my picture on top of it, and whatever person’s name whose test I was taking, I would have their name and date of birth on it. And it was really as easy as that,” he said.
Over nearly three years, Eshaghoff took the SAT at least 15 times, scoring in the 97th percentile or higher for the students he called his “clients.” He charged as much as $2,500 per test.
Eshaghoff says he even took the tests for girls.
“The girl has a foreign name that could be perceived as unisex, like a girl could be named Alex, but if she needs me to go and take her SATs under the name Alex whatever, it’s easy as that,” he said.
The Education Testing Service, which administers the test and is responsible for SAT security says test impersonators are not common occurrences.
Since Eshaghoff’s arrest, more than 20 students have been arrested in Nassau County’s investigation into SAT cheating.
Eshaghoff says he knew what he was doing was wrong.
“But I was low on cash and I just told myself, ‘One last time, one last time, one last time’,” he said. “If I could start over, I never would have done it.”
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