By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
A CAREFULLY MANICURED soul patch graces Jordan Kavoosi's lower lip. His polo shirt exposes tattoos on both forearms—on his right, a Chinese character; on his left, a cover-up of previous work. Curling his mouth up into a sideways grin, the 24-year-old sinks back into his brown leather chair.
"I mean, anybody can do anything," he says, gazing out a window that overlooks the strip-mall parking lot. "You just have to do whatever it takes to get there."
Kavoosi is in the business of plagiarism. For $23 per page, one of his employees will write an essay. Just name the topic and he'll get it done in 48 hours. He'll even guarantee at least a "B" grade or your money back. According to his website, he's the best essay writer in the world.
Kavoosi's business, Essay Writing Company, employs writers from across the country. Most of the customers are high school or college students, but not all. In one case, an author asked Kavoosi's crew to write a book to be published in his own name.
To be sure, there are ethical implications to running a business that traffics in academic fraud. The services Kavoosi offers are the same as those exposed in the University of Minnesota's 1999 basketball scandal, during which an office manager admitted to doing homework for players.
"Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business," Kavoosi explains. "I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved."
Kavoosi doesn't apologize for his work. On the contrary, he openly advertises it online and with large signs outside his Apple Valley office. Just last week, he and a couple of employees painted their bare chests and paraded around the suburb's streets to attract attention.
But all may not be as it seems when it comes to Kavoosi. The description on one of his many websites says the business has been "providing high quality essay writing" since 1998. It's actually less than two years old, and Kavoosi was only 12 years old in 1998.
An online listing for Dramatic Smiles Teeth Whitening—which Kavoosi says is a friend's company—advertises a "Dr. Jordan Kavoosi" who claims to practice dentistry in Austin, Texas. Kavoosi's cell phone number is listed at the bottom of the page, though he's not a doctor of anything.
No one is immune to Kavoosi's charm. At one point, Kavoosi even offered a cut of the profits to include his company's phone number and give this article a positive spin.
"We'll give you like 20 percent—15, 20 percent—commission per sale," Kavoosi offered. "So, ya know, if you write something like really good, positive, it gives you a little incentive."
The young entrepreneur has a lot to hide. A quick internet search of Kavoosi's name yields dozens of complaints from former writers accusing him of failing to pay the money he owes.
"The man, he is amoral," says Deborah Morse-Kahn, a former writer for Kavoosi. "He seemingly has no boundaries. Everything is a personal insult to him."
AROUND 1:30 A.M. in earlyJanuary 2009, Apple Valley police officer Greg Dahlstrom patrolled County Road 42. Word came over dispatch that a group of visibly drunk people had just come tearing out of a nearby Kwik Trip in an old Honda Civic and were heading his way.
Dahlstorm slowed his cruiser when he saw the oncoming headlights. The car that passed was crammed with four people and fit the description from dispatch, so he made a U-turn and followed. After watching the vehicle clumsily straddle the dotted line for more than a block, Dahlstrom turned on his sirens.
The officer approached the driver's-side window and found Kavoosi's eyes bloodshot and watery, according to a police report. The car reeked of booze, and Kavoosi couldn't form a cohesive sentence. A Breathalyzer test showed a .128 blood alcohol level; Kavoosi was booked for DUI.
After the drunk driving charge, says Kavoosi, he hit "rock bottom." He was living with his parents. He and a long-term girlfriend broke up. His web design company and a few others didn't bring him the success he had hoped for. Because of the DUI, he couldn't even get around.
"It sucked biking everywhere, ya know?" says Kavoosi. "Trying to make money just to get some Subway."
It was around this time, Kavoosi says, that one of his friends complained to him that he didn't have enough time to write an essay for a class at Dakota County Technical College. Kavoosi had a solution to both their problems: He'd write it for money.
The friend declined, buying an essay online instead. When the friend's professor busted him for plagiarism, Kavoosi says, it gave him the idea for his business.
"That's when I was like, 'There's obviously a market for this,'" recalls Kavoosi.
At first, he charged $80 for a 10-page paper, he says, and outsourced the work to writers in India. But now the company has more than 20 full-time writers on the payroll and dozens more part-timers. He presides over an empire of plagiarism.
"I want to be like a big LA Fitness," says Kavoosi, swiveling back and forth in his brown office chair, "where people can just come in here, play video games, get their homework done. Ya know? That's like everyone's dream."