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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutor Says Coded Pencils Aided Cheaters in Test Scandal

NEW YORK -- Federal agents broke up a scheme that allegedly beat the Graduate Record Exam by paying experts to take the tests in New York and phone answers to California, to be provided to students for $6,000 apiece.

The scheme took advantage of the 3-hour time difference and the fact that the same test is administered nationwide on the same day, prosecutors said Monday.

George Kobayashi, 45, of Arcadia, California, was arrested Saturday on fraud charges after he allegedly provided test takers with pencils that were encoded with the answers to the GRE as well as the Graduate Management Admissions Test and the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

"The victims here are not only the universities that accepted students who cheated on their admissions tests, but the honest students who perhaps did not get into the school of their choice because they were displaced by someone who cheated," said Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said several hundred test-takers may have taken advantage of the "unique" study method Kobayashi advertised at his American Test Center, which had been in operation from November 1993 until this month.

An undercover federal postal investigator posed as a student wanting to take the GMAT on Oct. 19, and was told a score of 650 (out of 800) would be guaranteed for $6,000, prosecutors said.

Kobayashi had a team of experts take each exam in New York using assumed names, and ordered his "students" to fly to Los Angeles to take the same exams, prosecutors said.

The experts telephoned the answers to Kobayashi's office in Los Angeles, where they were quickly coded onto pencils by his employees and provided to the test-takers, prosecutors said.

Kobayashi divided the test-takers into small groups and transported them to various test sites so that their high scores would not be concentrated in one test site and raise suspicions of cheating.

Kobayashi was scheduled to be brought to New York to face charges after he is arraigned in Los Angeles federal court.