5 Arrested for TOEFL/Visa Scheme

Those arrested were charged with posing as others to take the test and earn scores to be admitted to colleges.

March 18, 2019

Part of the massive admissions scandal that broke last week involved allegations that some wealthy parents arranged for people other than their children to take the SAT or ACT. They weren't the only ones accused of this kind of testing fraud.

Federal authorities in California arrested five people in what Immigrations and Customs Enforcement called "a scheme that helped Chinese nationals obtain student visas by hiring individuals who used fake Chinese passports to take an English proficiency test for the foreign students."

According to ICE, the five people arrested each took from two to five TOEFL exams for others. A sixth defendant is believed to be in Taiwan. The people who are alleged to have paid the defendants were applying to colleges in the United States and needed good TOEFL scores to be admitted and to then obtain student visas. Those from outside the United States who take the TOEFL in the U.S. must present passports, and the defendants are charged with using fake passports. Some of those who took the TOEFL were paid $400 per test to do so.

This is not the first time such test fraud has been alleged.

In 2017, three Chinese students admitted to a similar scheme.

The Educational Testing Service released the following statement: "ETS, which administers the TOEFL exam, provided assistance to federal authorities during their investigation. Scores associated with this case have already been canceled. ETS’s test security systems includes multiple layers for the prevention and detection of fraud. Our state-of-the-art voice and face biometrics enable us to look for known impersonators, to cancel scores and ban test takers who use impersonators."


We have retired comments and introduced Letters to the Editor. Share your thoughts »

Today’s News from Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes

Back to Top