If you are feeling stumped about the origin and purpose of an email from the sender ‘CMAT’, which directs you to a webpage form with the AICTE logo on its header, vaguely asking you “To fill up online Application for AICTE Approved College details in India. Form should be filled on immediate effect“, you’re not alone.

For a large number of students who received this email on Saturday, it appeared to be an email officially sent by the CMAT authorities asking for private data such as mobile numbers, email ID and postal address.

Do not fill this form up if you’re under the impression that it is from the AICTE or the CMAT authorities.

The web form however had not been hosted on an AICTE-owned website but on the domain ‘srns.biz’, which led a few recipients on PaGaLGuY here and here to suspect its intent and origin. One such recipient, going by the handle harmeet89 posted, “It looks fake till now. There is no such link on the AICTE CMAT website. Guys please do not fill the form. Please do NOT provide any data in the form. You will be compromising with your personal info and you might run the risk of a cyber threat. The safest thing to do would be to call up the CMAT office and confirm if they have released any such notification. If they decline, please do not fill the form.”

A WHOIS lookup of ‘srns.biz’ revealed its owner to be the Bangalore-based Adarsh Group of Institutes.

Indeed, the email has not bee sent by AICTE, but by SRN Adarsh College, sinisterly without revealing to recipients its name anywhere in the email or on the webpage form. Many would call this phishing, which Wikipedia describes as “the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.”

Ritesh Goyal, who handles admissions for Adarsh College (and also appears to be the ‘Ritesh’ marked as the owner of the domain name) however denied that it was a phishing attempt on Adarsh College’s part. “I admit that this not from AICTE. It is our marketing strategy to work on the CMAT database that has been given to us by AICTE. The webpage mentions that it is an application for the details of an AICTE approved college. We have not mentioned anything wrong about AICTE on the webpage,” he told PaGaLGuY.

Asked why the college had not mentioned its name or put its logo on the email or the web form, Goyal said, “This is a part of our marketing strategy to send this email. We are calling the students up to inform them that it is us that they have sent the data to. There is nothing illegal in it.”

Pressed to answer if this amounted to harvesting private information of MBA applicants without informing them who would own the data, he said, “The webpage clearly states the purpose of filling the data, I don’t agree that it masquerades as an AICTE webpage. I don’t think this is even a matter for discussion. Tell me what law has been violated.”

Screenshot of the email received from Adarsh College purporting to be from CMAT

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