How could an imposter take a college entrance exam?
The fraud charges laid against prominent Vancouver businessman and philanthropist David Sidoo for allegedly paying $200,000 to have someone take his sons' U.S. college entrance exams is shedding light on how imposters can pose as students for important exams.
"The test is very hard and that’s why you see all that’s happening," said Janette Lim, director of Opus Academy, a Vancouver company that helps students study for the SAT. "There are proctors in the exam room to do the timing and make sure nobody is cheating."
Students who take the SAT in Canada need to show that proctor a piece of photo ID. The indictment alleges whoever took the test for David Sidoo's sons had a fake ID, complete with photos and names.
The indictment also alleges a person was paid to "secretly take a Canadian high school graduation exam" in place of Sidoo's older son.
The Vancouver private school previously attended by his sons confirmed it's conducting an internal investigation on the matter, but said it hasn't been able to corroborate the claims.
"Our review of records from 2012 indicates that there were no school or provincial exams written at St. George's School by the student in question on or around the date named in the indictment," it said in a statement.
Lawyers for Sidoo also stressed neither of the sons have been accused of impropriety.
The allegations are part of a larger investigation into college admissions in the U.S., dubbed Project Varsity Blues.
The investigation has also led to charges against celebrities such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who have not responded to the allegations.
But Lim says lots of the pressure to succeed on the exam comes straight from parents.
"I think it’s because of affinity to these brand-name schools that is making parents take these unscrupulous ways," said Lim. "Entering university should be a process that the kid should be owning. It should be a coming of age experience, and it should not be rigged with so much pressure."