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Multiple arrests in test-taking federal fraud case

The Western District of Pennsylvania recently released a 35-count indictment against 15 individuals charged with a large-scale test-taking scam. The scheme involved the solicitation of individuals to utilize fake passports to take college entrance exams on the behalf of Chinese nationals. The purpose of the organization was to enable individuals to apply for and be accepted into American universities without going through the proper entrance requirements. The fraud charges are the result of testing conducted primarily in the Pittsburgh area.

Authorities assert that Chinese students who wanted to be accepted into American schools paid as much as $6,000 for the test-taking service. Those behind the scam are believed to have created fake passports for the purposes of providing identification to individuals located within the United States to gain entrance to the exam site. The tests would then be taken under the name of the client, and the resulting scores would be used as part of the client's college application process.

The tests involved in this operation include the SAT and the TOEFL. This is not the first test-taking scam in recent years; last fall saw an internal investigation into the matter. The Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, looked into cheating allegations and decided to withhold certain test results from the college admissions process due to concerns over legitimacy.

In this case, authorities believe that the organization has been in place for four years. Ten of the individuals charged in the Pennsylvania case currently reside in the U.S., while two live in China; it is unclear where the remaining three individuals reside. It is also not clear if the individuals are currently enrolled as students in American universities or to what degree the fraud led to their admission into those institutions.

Source: The New York Times, "15 Chinese Accused of Using Test-Taking Impostors for College Entrance Exams", Jess Bidgood, May 28, 2015

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