Students Beware of Exam Help Scammers

Yesterday, a student took to Reddit’s r/scams community to share the story of how they were scammed by an “Exam Help Scammer”

The scam was remarkably simple. The student involved had decided to cheat on an upcoming online exam and hired an “expert” from an exam help website. To that end, they paid $125 for the service.

They then gave their username and password to the person, so they could “study” for the exam. However, that person quickly responded with an error message related to their courses and said that they were about to get caught. They went on to say that, if they were paid $800, they could fix it.

The student ended up paying that amount, now totaling over $900 paid. However, the monetary demands did not stop there. They quickly demanded another $1,500, but it was at this point that the student realized it was a scam. 

The student changed their login information, and the “expert” did not end up taking any exams or completing any homework for them. However, the scammer did send an email to the student’s professor saying that the student had cheated and attached screenshots of their conversations. 

Before the post was deleted, the student updated to say that they took the test themselves and felt they “did good” but that they still haven’t heard from the professor.

Reddit was not kind to the student. Though some tried to provide some serious advice for the student, others felt it was an appropriate punishment, with comments such as “A cheater getting cheated on” and “You tried to commit a scam and got scammed.”

However, the case should serve as a warning. With exam season upon us, these “exam helper” sites are often anything but. They are often little more than expensive scams that are designed not to get you a good grade, but separate you from your money.

Note: The original post has been deleted and, though it appears to be a throwaway account and several of the person’s comments remain, I will not be naming them or sharing personal information. I’ve also opted not to post a copy of the original post, as it has already been summarized above and could contain other identifying information.

Essay Mills, Exam Help and Other Scams

The simple truth is that sites and services that help you cheat on assignments and tests are frequently scams. 

The reason is simple: The victim of the scam has little to no recourse, since they were acting unethically themselves. These scams can run the gamut from simply taking the money and running to out-and-out blackmail, as with the student above.

We’ve talked about this before in the context of essay mills, but exam help services are even more ripe for such exploitation. 

The reason is simple: Exam help sites usually require turning over the student’s login to take the test for them, this gives the would-be scammer a lot more information to threaten the student with. 

Scammers can directly contact professors, lock students out of their accounts, gather other personal information about the student and more. Depending on the information behind that login, they may be able to access other sites and services that the student uses.

In short, students that use essay help services aren’t just paying money to someone who might not come through, but they are turning over the keys to their academic lives, setting up cases like this one.

Advice for Students

The best advice for students is the most obvious: Don’t cheat, don’t plagiarize, and do your own work.

Simply put, the only way to 100% guarantee that you don’t get caught up in a scam that could harm or even end your academic career is to follow the rules of the assignment.

If you are worried about getting the grade you need, speak with your instructor during their office hours and seek help and guidance that way. Failing that, you can almost certainly find official homework and study help through your school.

However, if you are going to cheat, at least be cognizant of what you are doing. Understand that any dollar you pay, whether to a fellow student or an online service, may never come back and there’s no guarantee that the work you get will exist or, if it does, be of any quality.

More to the point, giving your login information to anyone is a risky proposition. Your student account holds as much private information as an email or, in some cases, a financial account. You should never do that, for any reason, especially to someone that you can’t trust.

And, to be clear, anyone helping you cheat on an exam or a paper is automatically someone you cannot trust. You are, fundamentally, engaging in unethical behavior, and someone who is willing to do that on your behalf for money is doing the same.

What you’re hoping is that their unethical behavior only extends to this one thing and not to also scamming you. That is not a bet I would suggest ever taking. 

Bottom Line

It’s easy to blame the students who get scammed this way. They were trying to cheat, and they simply met someone who has even fewer scruples than they have. It’s hard to feel sympathetic.

However, it’s important to remember that essay mills and exam help sites are an exploitative industry and a rapidly growing one. They use a variety of tactics to try and push students toward their services, including aggressive marketing, impersonating fellow students and more. 

While this doesn’t excuse the students that turn to such services, it does put them in a different light. Students are often young, unsure of the work, under a great deal of pressure and facing difficult deadlines. They’re easy targets for manipulation.

For those students who are tempted, it’s important to remember not just that cheating can severely harm your academic career, but that these services are very frequently scams and can easily cause problems rather than solve them. 

Your best bet is, no matter how tempting they might be, to simply stay away. 

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