The smart con man who cheated for other students

The smart con man who cheated for other students
"Whoa, that was easy and that was 
great. And I’m good at this."

Other students paid Sam Eshaghoff up to $2,500 to take their SAT and ACT college admissions exams for them. He explains, in an interview with Alison Stewart from the news program 60 Minutes, how easy it was to cheat:

Until he was arrested in September, Sam Eshaghoff seemed like the perfect kid. At New York’s Great Neck North High School, he was a top student, vice president of the business club and a varsity athlete, but what may have been his greatest talent was the one that got him in trouble: his ability to ace standardized tests, which was how he began a double life as a con man.

Eshaghoff: Well, 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 gonna take?"

Here’s how he did it: it was as simple as making a high school ID; one of six forms of identification accepted at SAT testing centers.

Eshaghoff: A school ID is what? Like what is that? It’s like, it’s some colors with literally a name and picture on it. So what I would do is, 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.

Watch the complete segment on 60 Minutes

Stewart: No social security number?

Eshaghoff: No.

Stewart: No driver’s license, no passport?

Eshaghoff: Name and date of birth.

Stewart: On a little piece of plastic?

Eshaghoff: On a little piece of plastic that got laminated once.

Fake ID in hand, and with a bad case of nerves, Eshaghoff began his lucrative career.

Eshaghoff: As soon as I took that first test, and I went in and I killed it, like my first time ever taking the test for somebody else, I got a perfect score on the math section. It was like, "Whoa, that was easy and that was great. And I’m good at this."

It was clockwork from there. Over the course of nearly three years, he took the SAT over and over again, consistently scoring in the 97th percentile or higher for the students he called his "clients."

Eshaghoff: I mean my track record speaks for itself. Like if you know somebody’s so stellar at doing something so flawlessly, without one exception it goes without saying: that’s a reliable service.

Stewart: Were you invested at all in the score you would get?

Eshaghoff: Oh yeah, absolutely. Just like any other business person, you wanna have a good track record, right? And essentially like my whole clientele were based on word of mouth and like a referral system. So as soon as I, like, as soon as I saved one kid’s life…

Stewart: Saving his life?

Eshaghoff: Saving his life.

Stewart: What do you mean by saving his life?

Eshaghoff: I mean a kid who has a horrible grade point average, who no matter how much he studies is gonna totally bomb this test, by giving him an amazing score, I totally give him this like, a new lease on life. He’s gonna go to a totally new college, he’s gonna be bound for a totally new career and a totally new path in life.

Stewart: But isn’t he going to take the place of someone who may have actually worked for it and deserved that position?

Eshaghoff: You know, I hear that but I don’t care for a complaint like that. That one kid that I helped get into whatever school, he really wasn’t displacing anybody.

Stewart: You sound like you wanna defend their right to be in these schools?

Eshaghoff: I feel confident defending the fact that they, getting into the schools that they ended up getting into, didn’t really affect other people.

Stewart: But it’s possible?

Eshaghoff: It’s possible.

For his fraud, instead of jail time, Sam Eshaghoff got a plea deal which requires community service: he has to tutor low-income students on how to take the SAT.

Read the entire article at: The Perfect Score: Cheating on the SAT, CBS News>>

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