Law-enforcement officials in this country say that highly organized rings of college-admission-exams imposters—once considered a unique artifact of the high-stakes, test-driven Chinese education system—have arrived on our shores. The scam is probably as old as college-entrance exams themselves and periodically, test fakers get snared. Five years ago, 20 teenagers from Nassau County in suburban New York made headlines when they were arrested for being paid to take—or paying others to take—their SATs. The networks like the one Zou used are far more sophisticated. In these schemes, brokers in China are using computer-enhanced photography to create nearly undetectable fake passports for schemes that allow imposters to take a range of tests—including the SAT, the GRE, and the TOEFL for students across the globe.
Indeed, last week, the website www.moonbead.com, which law-enforcement officials say was the site that the test fakers used to arrange a U.S. gunman for Zou, seemed eager to solicit new clients.
“Our price is high but reasonable,” the site says in Chinese. Under instructions for arranging SAT proxies, “Daisy,” the broker from Moonbead, recommends college hopefuls secure their gunman early. “Give us the anticipated test score and test time you prefer. There are only six tests in each year … our gunmen are limited and excess-demand, please book the service as early as possible, especially for those who need a higher score.” Faking excellent scores, according to the site, costs more than simply faking good scores. “Please contact us individually if you need the test score of 2100 to 2200, the service fee changes based on different cases.” Scores are guaranteed. “We have the confidence to take your money as we let you pay after you get your score.” And if a client doesn’t pay? The FAQ on Moonbead.com carries a hint of menace. “We can report your cheating … this will be your scar and scandal for your whole lifetime.” Besides, the site reminds would-be clients, “We have all your personal and private information … Don’t win the battle but lose the war.”
I knew that a good SAT score can be a big deal in some families, but damn.