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Authorities say students took standardized tests for others using fake passports

15 Chinese nationals have been charged in the scheme

CNN  — 

Fifteen Chinese nationals have been accused of participating in a cheating scheme that helped foreign students fraudulently gain admission to American colleges and universities and obtain student visas.

The Department of Justice said the defendants had fake Chinese passports made, which were used by individuals to take standardized tests for other people. The tests included the SAT, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, and the Graduate Record Examination.

“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” said Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan for Homeland Security Investigations of Philadelphia.

U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton for the Western District of Pennsylvania said on Thursday that 15 people were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting foreign passports, mail fraud and wire fraud,

The majority of the crimes took place in Western Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Most American colleges and universities require applicants to take either the SAT or the ACT. Those applying for student visas in the United States are sometimes required to include standardized test scores as evidence they are qualified for the school or programming they are joining.