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Press Release

Chinese National Sentenced in Connection with College Admissions Exam Scam

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON - A Chinese national charged with defrauding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its administration of its Student and Exchange Visitor Program pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.


Shikun Zhang, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs sentenced Zhang to time-served and ordered her to be immediately removed from the United States to the People’s Republic of China.


In December 2015, Zhang registered to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, which is required by American universities that participate in DHS’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. On prior occasions, Zhang failed to achieve a high enough score on the TOEFL exam to be admitted to a participating American university. When Zhang registered to take the exam again in December 2015, she provided her passport and exam registration information to a co-conspirator who used the materials to take the exam for Zhang. The co-conspirator scored high on the exam, and Zhang fraudulently submitted the co-conspirator’s test results as her own and was subsequently admitted into an American university.  Once admitted, Zhang was issued DHS’s Form I-20, which made her eligible to receive an F-1 non-immigrant student visa to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of her studies.  


Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and William B. Gannon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Soivilien of Weinreb’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.


Updated October 5, 2017