NMIMS officials at the press conference held at the institute
In a major education-related racket bust, six persons have been identified for having impersonated 87 candidates in the Narsee Monjee Management Aptitude Test (NMAT) which was held from October 11 to December 19, 2012. A joint team of the cyber-crime police and Unit 8, Crime Branch, Mumbai has arrested one of these impersonators while the remaining five are yet to be caught, claimed the Mumbai-based Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) University, which conducts the NMAT for admissions to its MBA programs.
The alleged impersonator caught until now is named Alok Kumar. In addition, the police claimed to have arrested five other people who were organising the malpractice. Brajendrapratap Singh, one of these accused, had promised one student of securing him passing marks in the NMAT through management quota for Rs 15 lakh. Thereafter, the accused took Rs 7.5 lakh as advance from the student and employed a dummy candidate to take the test in place of the student. The accused then informed the student that he had passed the NMAT exam and had been shortlisted for the group discussion and interview. The student would then be asked to pay up the remaining Rs 7.5 lakh.
The other accused have been traced and arrested from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Pune. Hanumant Singh Gujar’s credit card was used to pay the admission fees for some of the students while his brother Sugriv Singh Gujar used to mediate between the students and dummy test takers. Pavan Kumar and Himanshu Shekhar were both also middlemen who used to lure NMIMS aspirants into paying money on the pretext of admission through management quota and then pass them on to consultants. Such was the efficiency of the illegal service that most of these students scored 220 marks or above in NMAT, a very high score for the test.
While the impersonators managed to get past the NMAT verification systems using forged primary and secondary identity proofs, the students benefitting from the malpractice were nailed by NMIMS during the group discussion and interview stage after their photographs were found to be not matching those given at the time of the test. Among the 87 students who allegedly availed of this malpractice, only 61 candidates turned up for admission at the institute. They will now be debarred from the process, to the benefit of students who are currently waitlisted for admissions at the institute.
PaGaLGuY spoke to Deepak Phatangare, senior inspector at the Andheri Crime Branch, who claimed that the police had already identified the location of the other five impersonators and would be nabbing them soon. Most of them hailed from the north of India. The police have also identified two companies, Career Guardian from Ghaziabad and Meta Consultancy from New Delhi which were allegedly involved in these criminal practices.
In a press conference held today at the NMIMS Mumbai campus, vice-chancellor Dr Rajan Saxena said that the school had filed an FIR about the impersonation on April 24, 2013. When asked if checks and balances could have been stronger during the NMAT stage itself to flag such impersonation he said, “In hindsight, it could have been but it is only because of the quality of the admission process that this has been detected.” Asked if the test would be made more secure next year he replied, “It would be difficult to say now. We will look at it.” Unlike the Common Admissions Test (CAT) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the NMAT does not employ biometric scanning measures such as fingerprint or palm-vein profiling, used to prevent impersonation, during the test check-in process. Despite arguably weaker security measures, the NMAT costs Rs 1,650, higher than the CAT which costs Rs 1,600.
This incident could also be a blow to the credibility to Pearson Vue, the test service provider for NMAT which also conducts the GMAT worldwide. Representatives of Pearson Vue were not available for comment at the time of writing this story.
The scale of the crime is mindboggling in itself. According to the police, only six people impersonated for 87 students across the country. They shunted cities, time slots and test stages to carry out the alleged subterfuge. More than Rs 13 crore changed hands in the process. Also, this might only be the tip of the iceberg as preliminary investigations revealed that this gang might be involved in similar malpractices at other management entrance exams as well.