15 Charged In Plot To Illegally Enter US Via SAT Cheating

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Federal investigators have charged 15 Chinese nationals living in the U.S. with orchestrating a major operation to cheat on the SAT, not only helping students procure illegitimate admissions to American universities but also helping them illegally immigrate to the United States.

The Chinese defendants are accused of providing fake Chinese passports to imposters in the U.S. who were paid as much as $6,000 to enter test centers and take tests such as the SAT and GRE (a graduate school admissions test) on behalf of others.

Once obtained, phony SAT scores allowed students to apply for admission to American universities. Once admitted, they could apply for student visas that allowed them to enter the United States.

“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” said John Kelleghan, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations of Philadelphia, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The scheme is alleged to have run from 2011 to 2015 and to have primarily been carried out at testing centers in western Pennsylvania. The 15 people charged in the conspiracy include both the imposter test-takers and some of the people they claimed to be. The exact number of people who may have benefited from the scheme is unknown.

While he didn’t name specific schools, U.S. attorney David Hickton that the cheaters were able to obtain admission to “our finest educational institutions.” Some of those charged currently live in the Boston area, home to both Harvard and MIT.

If convicted on charges of conspiracy and mail fraud, the defendants could spend as much as 20 years in prison.

Efforts to cheat on the SAT, in one way or another, are widespread in Asian countries and have repeatedly caused headaches for the College Board, which administers the test. Scores for Asian test-takers have repeatedly been withheld due to discoveries that questions were leaked to test-takers beforehand or that other perfidious behavior occurred.

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Blake Neff