“Oh my God, they can do everything for you,” said Nok, 17-year-old Thai senior in her final year at a private Bangkok high school. (She asked GlobalPost to alter her name for this article.) “They can take the SAT for you, no problem. Most students don’t really think it’s wrong.”

Among Asian high society, and particularly in China, parents’ obsession with sending their offspring to US colleges has given rise to a lucrative trade of application brokers. Depending the degree of assistance, families can expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000.

“The parent says, ‘My kid needs this GPA but, frankly, his scores aren’t that strong.’ Then the unscrupulous agent says ‘Don’t worry. We’ll figure that out,’” said Tom Melcher, chairman of Zinch China and author of a Chinese-language book on choosing American colleges.