A Seoul court has handed down suspended jail sentences to four Chinese people for taking major English proficiency exams instead of registered applicants in exchange for money, court officials said Tuesday.
The so-called "substitute test-takers" were found guilty of helping other Chinese cheat on the Graduate Record Exam and the Test of English as a Foreign Language by using forged passports.
The Seoul Central District Court sentenced two Chinese university students to one year in prison with a two-year stay of execution and another two to eight months behind bars with a two-year stay of execution.
The defendants, who had previously received high scores in the high-stake tests, were paid up to 2 million won ($1,870) by other Chinese students seeking graduate and post-graduate degrees in the United States between October 2012 and November 2013, the officials said.
The four then presented the fake passports at local test sites knowing that superintendents would find it difficult to confirm the identification of Chinese people, the officials added.
"The nature of the defendants' crimes is very offensive, not only in the way that they infringed upon the fairness and objectivity of the TOEFL but also how they hurt other applicants," Judge Song Kyong-keun said in his ruling.
While the TOEFL measures the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written and heard in college and university settings, the GRE measures the abilities of graduates in tasks of a general academic nature. (Yonhap)