A Northeastern University student from China is just a few courses short of graduating—but he may never don the cap and gown because of a decision federal prosecutors said he made four years ago.
According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Siyuan Zhao was one of 15 Chinese nationals to pay people in the United States, mostly Western Pennsylvania, to take college entry exams in their place.
In Zhao’s case, he’s accused of paying someone to take an English proficiency test that he submitted with his Northeastern application, The Boston Globe reports. Prosecutors said others paid as much as $6,000 for stand-ins to take tests, including the SAT and GRE, according to the report.
Here’s how it worked, according to prosecutors:
The Chinese students had counterfeit passports made and sent them to the test takers in the United States. The test takers would then use those passports to pose as the students during the exams.
The overall 35-count indictment was unsealed Thursday, the same day Zhao, 23, was taken into custody at his Revere home, according to The Globe.
Zhao was charged with using a false passport, conspiracy, wire fraud, and mail fraud, according to the report. He had an initial court date Friday and was ordered to remain under house arrest until his next court date in Pennsylvania.
Zhao’s court-appointed attorney, Stellio Sinnis, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Saturday.
A Northeastern spokeswoman declined to comment to The Globe regarding Zhao, other than to say he’ll be referred to the office of student conduct.
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