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A California man has been arrested on charges of running a three-year scheme that allowed people to cheat on required graduate school admission exams by using pencils encoded with the answers, federal prosecutors said Monday.

George Kobayashi, 45, of Arcadia, was arrested Saturday on two fraud charges alleging he operated his scheme from November 1993 until the present. If convicted, he faces a possible maximum prison term of 10 years and fines of $500,000.

According to the complaint, Kobayashi's company "American Test Center" advertised a "unique" method of preparing students for graduate admission tests for a charge of $6,000.

Applicants were provided with correct answers in code on pencils that test-takers carried into the exam with them, prosecutors alleged.

Kobayashi ran his scheme by having a team of experts take each exam in New York City using assumed names.

The actual "test-takers" who hired Kobayashi's company were instructed to fly to Los Angeles to take the exam. Relying on the three-hour time difference, the experts telephoned the correct answers to Kobayashi's office in Los Angeles where the answers were quickly coded onto pencils by Kobayashi's employees and then provided to the test-takers, the complaint alleged.

Prosecutors alleged that Kobayashi's company divided test-takers into small groups and transported them to various test sites around the Los Angeles area so that their high scores would not be concentrated in one test site and raise suspicion of cheating.

The scam was witnessed by an undercover federal investigator who employed Kobayashi's services.

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