In the fall of 2013, Yue Zou decided that she wanted to leave Hegang, the city where she lived in the Heilongjiang province of China, and attend college in the United States. Her boyfriend, already a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was eager to help her get admitted to a competitive university.
He didn’t help to edit her essay or arrange for her to be tutored for the SAT. Instead he contacted a Chinese company that specializes in finding American-based test-taking proxies who, for a fee, obtain high scores on the SAT, the graduate school admission test called the GRE, and English-proficiency exams like the TOEFL for their wealthy Chinese clients. According to court documents, Zou’s boyfriend negotiated a deal with the test broker. Zou then paid the broker $6,000 for the TOEFL and $2,000 for the SAT. The broker then arranged for a graduate student to take Zou’s college-entrance exams in Pennsylvania, the court documents say.