A TOP City trader faces shame and a possible jail term after he admitted cheating in exams at the University of York.

Jerome Drean, 34, who once worked for the Bank of America and Credit Suisse, stood in the dock with the man he impersonated on the Heslington campus - Elnar Askerov, aged 23.

The financial markets expert netted £20,000 as he used a fake ID card to sit exams in Askerov's name during the pair's 17-month conspiracy.

Both could be jailed when they return to York Crown Court next month to be sentenced.

"This is a case that raises some issues of quite some public importance in relation to public examinations and the confidence that the community can have in them," said York's top judge, Judge Stephen Ashurst.

"I know you are both intelligent men. You must understand that all sentencing options including imprisonment will be considered when this court reconvenes to consider your case."

Drean, of Aberdeen Lane, in Islington, London, and Askerov, formerly of Westgate Apartments, off Leeman Road, York, and now living and working abroad, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the University of York between January 10, 2006, and May 13, 2007.

They admitted that they got a university ID in Askerov's name but bearing Drean's photo, that Drean sat examinations in place of Askerov and that he used the fake ID card to do so.

They each denied nine charges of using a fake ID card on dates between January 11, 2006 and May 11, 2007. Drean also denied charges of getting £16,000 by crime and having a further £4,000 of criminal money in his possession between January 13, 2006 and May 12, 2007.

"Perhaps the punishment for both of these men is the loss of their good character," said Alexander Cameron QC, representing Askerov. Their conviction would affect the jobs they could take up and where they could travel.

He added the university would get back the £600 to £700 he said it spent marking Drean's exam papers.

For Drean, who now faces a confiscation hearing, David Bradshaw said the defendant would agree to hand over to the prosecuting authorities the £20,000 he netted.

Outside court, Detective Constable Darian Dundas, of North Yorkshire Police's financial investigations unit, said: "North Yorkshire Police take a pro-active stance in any criminal offence where a benefit has been made from crime and we will actively pursue cases against defendants in order to remove the benefit of that criminal activity."

City life

Drean rose to prominence with Bank of America, where he was its London-based head of Equity Financial Products Trading in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In April 2007, he joined Credit Suisse, again in a senior position. He specialised in dealing in equity derivatives, a type of financial products.

But on May 21, only five weeks into the new job, he resigned – eight days after the end of the exam cheating conspiracy.

Within three months, he made his first appearance before York Crown Court.

For the prosecution, Simon Kealey accepted the pleas on the understanding that the conspiracy charge included all the crimes in the other charges.

Detective Inspector Adam Harland, of the force's financial investigation unit, said the crime had been spotted by an eagle-eyed member of the exam staff during an economics exam.

"I understand that it was one of the university staff invigilating in the exam, who realised that Mr Drean was not Mr Askerov.

"It was pure chance. They hauled him out of the exam, asked him to identify himself, and he pretty much admitted to it on the spot."

Getting tough on essay swindle

THE University of York will crack down on students paying hundreds of pounds to professionals to cheat in essays.

This comes as UKEssays.com admitted that 142 University of York students bought essays from them last year, many of which were tailor-made and cost between £200 and £1,000.

But the university has hit back and promised to get tough on essay cheats, saying that despite the number of essays bought, plagiarism is still rare.

A spokesman for the University of York said: "Any student submitting all or part of an essay purchased from, or edited by, an outside organisation would be committing serious academic misconduct, and could be subject to penalties including the loss of marks from the final degree, failing the degree outright or being sent down from the university.

"The university takes academic misconduct very seriously and is increasingly using automated plagiarism detection as well as traditional methods to detect it.

"Techniques for detecting plagiarism are becoming more sophisticated, and the chances of students who plagiarise being detected are increasing all the time. Plagiarism is relatively rare at York."

The website allows students to specify their essay title and have an answer written by a graduate, which nobody but them has seen before.

Typically, a 2:1 essay costs £60 per 500 words. However, for a three hour turnaround, buyers pay £1,500 for a 2,500-word essay. A first class undergraduate dissertation essay can be valued at up to £4,000.

A spokesman for UKEssays.com, said: "We see the fact that the University of York has such low plagiarism detection rates as fantastic. For us, this means that our customers, all 142 of them, are using our service as it's meant to be used - honestly. We actively discourage plagiarism."

Chinese students switched places for same paper

TWO other cheats were caught on the same day and at the same exam as Jerome Drean and Enlar Askerov.

Qiu Shi Zhang, 23, who was supposed to sit the economics finance exam, got his friend Xin Zhang, 24, no relation, to stand in for him at the University of York.

But vigilant staff spotted that Xin Zhang was very different from the picture on the ID card he carried and both were arrested.

Qiu Shi Zhang, of Hickleton Court, Garrowby Way, Heslington, admitted aiding and abetting fraud and Xin Zhang, who was studying marketing at Birmingham University last May, admitted fraud.

Each was ordered to do 100 hours' community work and pay £35.

They appeared before York Magistrates Court within a week of being caught on May 11. John Howard, for the pair, said the deception was a one-off. The York student had been struggling throughout his economics course and may have come close to a breakdown through worry, but he needed to sit the exam.

So he got his friend from Birmingham to do it for him. He did not pay him.

Like Drean and Askerov, the Chinese pair were arrested near the university's Central Hall, where the exam was in progress.