he Department of Homeland Security is investigating a man for allegedly helping Chinese students to cheat their way into American universities.
As the sole owner and operator of “Mayen Global Services,” the man would be paid up to $25,000 per student to have imposters with fake Chinese passports step in to take the SAT and TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) exams in their place, while also completing their college applications for them, according to a federal search warrant obtained by NBC 7.
The man has been identified as a 28-year-old Chinese native who speaks little English and rarely leaves his home in suburban San Diego. Applications for Chinese students who took advantage of his company’s services were sent to a number of highly-ranked state universities in California. The “education consultant” had been directing this scheme for at least three years until a test proctor finally unmasked one of the exam imposters and alerted the authorities.
It’s not clear how many Chinese students ended up in colleges in the US thanks only to Mayen Global Services’ help, however, the suspect is just one small actor in a big and booming business that has grown and developed over the years in order to provide well-off Chinese hopefuls with US student visas.
Back in 2011, based on interviews with 250 Beijing high schoolers, educational consulting company Zinch China estimated that 90% of Chinese applicants to American universities submit fake recommendations, 70% have others write their essays for them, 50% forge their high school transcripts, and 10% list academic awards and other achievements that they never received.
Meanwhile, there are a number of companies like Mayen which help Chinese students pad their applications by having intelligent imposters handle the entrance exams in the US. In 2015, a gang of 15 Chinese nationals werearrested for masterminding such a scheme in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, one Chinese woman was deported after admitting to gaining entry to Penn State University thanks to the services of a ringer test-taker.
Not a surprise – the problem is rampant – but here's how some Chinese students cheat at US colleges. https://t.co/EVUOHjLWlN
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) May 26, 2016
Of course, once they are accepted into an American university, Chinese students are faced with a whole new problem of keeping their grades up. A 2016 Reuters investigation describes how firms would send Chinese-language email advertisements to students, promising to raise their GPAs and help them graduate early by having imposters take their classes for them. The ads included a money-back guarantee if the student did not receive an A at the end of the semester.
“At the start, I wasn’t looking for someone to take my exams for me. But when I did my homework, I discovered the grades I got for my homework were always very poor. Then I began to worry,” said one Chinese woman who had been studying at the University of Iowa.
“My family is very strict with me and has very high expectations for my grades,” she continued. “My mother’s health is not good, too, and I didn’t want to disappoint her, which led me to make a wrong decision.”