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His side of the conversation was notable for how painfully little English he knew despite having ostensibly completed a three-page assignment in that language.From 1,500 miles away, I set to work on a second draft using this new information. Within an hour or two, I had e-mailed the new draft—stripped of Microsoft Word metadata to conceal the identity of the document’s real creator—to my supervisor, who reviewed and approved it before dispatching it back to the student in New York. But over the past two-plus years, I grew used to submitting writing assignments using a name other than my own.
The explosion of these virtual courses has, of course, made this kind of cheating very easy for anyone willing to fork over the dough and assume a modicum of risk. As much as a I wanted, and sometimes more than I could handle given my other responsibilities.
I wrote a number of short papers, took weekly quizzes (for which I easily Googled the answers in what I regard as meta-cheating) and participated in message-board discussions, being careful to avoid anachronisms and writing as best as I could from the standpoint of the opposite sex. Over the next two-plus years, I turned out over 3,000 pages’ worth of work and made over $60,000, reporting this to the IRS as tutoring income.
supervisor e-mailed me an audio file consisting of a three-minute conversation between a college sophomore from Saudi Arabia and his English professor in New York.
The student had just surreptitiously recorded this chat using his cell phone; he had approached the professor hoping for specifics on how to improve the first draft of an analysis of Sylvia Plath’s work he’d submitted the previous week.
I bought a new car last year almost entirely thanks to this dubious enterprise.
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But I recently parted ways, amicably, with this outfit, because I got a real job—one that, perhaps not ironically, drew on what I’d learned in ‘my’ marketing classes.And I’m very thankful, because I hated it and loved it at the same time.* * * How was this ‘job’ compared to others like it, such as they exist?My boss’s clients were rich and accordingly self-entitled, and they were willing to pay handsomely for good work—and not just the occasional paper. In fact, a few of them farmed out their entire academic course loads to the people who paid me.* * * After getting a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from a New England liberal arts school at the onset of the global financial crisis, I dropped out of a doctorate program after two years and started working part-time for an insurance company handling its corporate communications.I was careful to stick to the grading rubric and minimize grammar errors while still writing in a sufficiently unrefined manner to convincingly imitate a Riyadh native who’d come to the U. My work is associated with literally dozens of real names, most of them belonging to people aged 19 to 25 or so, all of them from well-off to extremely wealthy families.I might be a young man from Tunisia one morning and an aspiring bikini model from Colombia that same afternoon. You can find a number of these online, but not the one I was associated with, which was more a concierge-style operation catering to a niche clientele.As the owners understandably wanted, my direct contact with students was all but nonexistent, although I had to know their names when logging into their student accounts. I followed a few on social media to help me get ‘in character’ (and briefly had the hots for one, sort of).Everything was brokered through the person who’d recruited me and handled the day-to-day operations.For a psych class, I used an actual account of watching someone smoke pot that so horrified the student he was apparently ready to return to Kuwait.) * * * Realistically, this could all be squashed.Colleges offering online courses could make some basic technical adjustments to preclude most of this cheating if they cared to do so.