On Monday, a college student from China was arrested as American law enforcement agencies look into foreign students who authorities say hire imposters to take exams on their behalf to gain admission to American colleges and universities. Xinyan Wang was attending Lehigh Carbon Community College in Pennsylvania is alleged to have sat six times since July for college entrance exams under other peoples' names, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Boston.

The 27-year-old Wang took the GRE admissions exam more recently on October 20 in Boston. Wang used a counterfeit Chinese passport and a visa in another person's name that contained photos that resembled her, according to charging papers. She was arrested in Pennsylvania on charges that she committed visa fraud and used a false passport, according to court records. A lawyer for Wang could not be immediately identified.

More and more Chinese have been enrolling at American colleges and universities. A degree from an American institution confers significant prestige to Chinese students and also makes them more attractive to employers. Over the 2016-2017 academic year, the number of Chinese studying in the United States rose by 6.8 percent to 350,755, according to the Institute of International Education. 

In some instances, American authorities have identified foreign students who, unable to pass the exams themselves, hire imposters to take them in their place in order to apply for admission to American institutions. For example, federal prosecutors charged four women from China in May who are alleged to have cheated on entrance exams. According to prosecutors, one of the women was paid to take the TOEFL, the English-language exam used to assess foreign applicants, for the other three women. Three of the four women have pleaded guilty.

The charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The four also are subject to deportation after conviction and serving any sentence imposed. The Department of Justice identified the imposter as Yue Wang, 25, who attended the Hult International Business School in Cambridge outside Boston, and the three cheaters as Shikun Zhang, 24, of Northeastern University; Leyi Huang, 21, of Penn State University; and Xiaomeng Cheng, 21, of Arizona State University.

“Illegal schemes to circumvent the (Test of English as a Foreign Language) TOEFL exam jeopardize both academic integrity and our country’s student visa program,” William B. Weinreb, acting U.S Attorney in Boston, said. “By effectively purchasing passing scores, (the students) violated the rules and regulations of the exam, taking spots at U.S. colleges and universities that could have gone to others.”




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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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