Malpractice in GRE/TOEFL: Hyderabad police arrest four, including NIT student; two on the run

Four people, including a final year BTech student of National Institute of Technology (NIT) Raipur, were Tuesday arrested by the Hyderabad police on charges of organising and facilitating cheating in foreign exams such as Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), officials said.

The arrested have been identified as Mandala Shravan Kumar who is the BTech student, Mandala Sai Santosh, P Kishore, and Arkatala Kiran Kumar, whereas two others G S J Aditya and Guna Shekar are absconding, the police said in a statement.

A couple of weeks ago, the agency authorised to conduct GRE/TOEFL in India complained to the Hyderabad police after it detected instances of cheating aided by an organised gang of fraudsters. In its complaint, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private non-profit educational testing and assessment organisation based in New Jersey, has informed the police that fraudsters were aiding candidates to ace the test.

The ETS had conducted a decoy operation with help of a private investigator and found cheating in GRE. The two online exams are taken every year by millions of students who wish to study abroad.

Joint Commissioner (Central Crime Station-Detective Department) Gajarao Bhupal told reporters that the accused gave advertisements on social media to attract students who aspired to study abroad. “Aditya and Shravan are final-year BTech students of NIT Raipur. They used to help their friends write GRE/TOEFL exams. In return for a charge of Rs 20,000, they would help students get good scores in these exams,” he said.

The officer said that as students have the option to take the test from home, Aditya and Shravan collected the details of students and wrote the exam at a friend’s house. “During the exam, Kishore or Santosh hid in the room and secretly took a photo of the question paper and sent it to Shravan via WhatsApp. Shravan then prepared the answers and sent them to Kishore or Santosh. They then pass it on to the students writing the exam,” he said.

According to the police, the accused have helped 50 candidates cheat in the exam so far. The police are on the lookout for Guna Shekar, currently pursuing a Master’s in the US, who used to follow the same modus operandi with the help of his friend Kiran Kumar who has now been arrested.

The complaint by ETS had named Guna Shekar as the fraudster contacted by the decoy candidate who cheated in the exam. During the probe, the cybercrime police reached Guna Shekar’s aide Kiran Kumar, an engineering graduate in the city. Further investigation had led them to the final year students at NIT Raipur who also resorted to the same modus operandi, the police said.