Chinese “Lookalikes” Scamming Tests

The New Observer
April 8, 2016

Chinese would-be students are taking advantage of the fact that white people struggle to tell them apart to scam college-entry tests to gain admittance to the US, it has emerged.

It has become big business for Chinese people, clamoring to get into a US institution, to hire scammers, known as “gunmen,” to take SAT, GRE, and English proficiency exams on their behalf.

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These “gunmen” pose as Chinese students on behalf of those who are not proficient in the English language, are not smart enough to score well on collegiate-level qualifying exams, or both, and help them to secure their all-important acceptance letters to major US colleges.

These letters are crucial toward obtaining a “student visa” to “study” in the US—and, once inside the country, the “student” of course vanishes into the growing “Asian community” rather than actually studying.

The tests are organized by US companies overseas to help colleges vet prospective students, and the “gunmen” charge as much as $10,000 per test.

The core of the problem lies in the fact that the “gunmen” use the real student’s identity documents—usually a passport—when taking the test.

The white invigilator cannot determine whether the photograph in the document is the same person as the one writing the test.

The scam has become so widespread that it now has come to US shores as well, along with the hugely increased Chinese population.

“Hiring test-taking proxies has been a widespread practice in China for a long time,” Terry Crawford, who runs InitialView, one of the companies employed by colleges to vet students, recently told the media.

“With so many Chinese students wanting to study in the US, it’s natural that these fraudulent practices are spreading here, where security is comparatively low.”

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 US shores.

Recently, fifteen former and current US college students originally from China were arrested in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and pled guilty to attempting to scam the applications system.

They arranged test-takers for friends or took the tests for others. Most of them will be deported.

“During our investigation it became clear the scope of the scam is very broad,” David Hickton, US attorney for western Pennsylvania, said in the aftermath of that incident.

“The networks we uncovered are obviously meant to serve a much larger group than these 15 students.”

American colleges and universities were home to over 300,000 Chinese students last year, according to the Institute of International Education—an almost 11 percent increase from the year before.

Even more incredibly, the Chinese test-taking proxies are advertised on the Internet—in the US, in Chinese.

“Our price is high but reasonable,” one site says in Chinese.

“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.”

“These services are not exactly underground,” New York defense lawyer Anna Demidchik was quoted as saying after representing Quifan Chen, a wealthy University of Connecticut student, who recently plead guilty to having a gunman take his GREs for him in December 2014.

In the past year alone, the College Board, the non-profit organization that develops and administers standardized tests in the US, delayed many scores from four of the seven times the test was administered in Asia while it investigated cheating suspicions.

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