Five people have been arrested in the US last week, under suspicions of having links with an English Proficiency Exam cheating scheme that enabled Chinese nationals to get US student visas.
According to a press release of the Department of Justice at the US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California, the defendants are suspected of being involved in a scheme that aided Chinese students to pass their exams for a US F-1 Student Visa. The scheme hired individuals to enter the exam instead of the visa applicants, by using fake passports.
“The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to use false passports, using false passports, and aggravated identity theft as part of the scheme to impersonate Chinese nationals who were required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to obtain a student visa,” the press release reads.
23-year-old Liu Cai of Woodland Hills is suspected to be the ringleader. He allegedly took at least five TOEFL exams so far, and is in the US on a Student Visa.
The indictment alleges that Cai registered 14 Chinese nationals to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and paid for them, within a year. He then paid three others, also arrested, around $400 per exam.
“The conspiracy count in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. The charge of using a false passport carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive two-year sentence,” the press release reads.
The five defendants who were taken into custody are:
- Liu Cai, 23 years old who was allegedly the ringleader and sat for at least five TOEFL exams,
- Quang Cao, 24 years old, who allegedly took at least four TOEFL exams with false identification,
- Elric Zhang, 24 years old, who allegedly took at least five TOEFL exams as part of the scheme,
- Mohan Zhang, 24 years old, who allegedly took at least two TOEFL exams under the names of foreign nationals,
- Samantha Wang, 24 years old, allegedly took at least two TOEFL exams.