Saturday, November 27, 2021

    Would-be Teachers Cheat on Exams Using Bluetooth-Connected Flip-Flops


    Over two dozen people taking a national exam that could lead to a career in teaching were caught cheating Bluetooth-enabled flip flops to get an edge over the stiff competition.

    Cheating has long been a major issue in India, particularly during potentially life-changing exams. I recall seeing weird scenes a few years ago of people climbing the walls of a school building in Bihar to throw out cheat sheets to pupils taking their year-end examinations inside, or army hopefuls being forced to sit exams in their underpants to prevent cheating. Authorities in Rajasthan went so far as to limit the state’s internet connection during the exam this year to avoid cheating, but they still couldn’t stop sophisticated cheats from trying to get a leg up through illegal means. Bluetooth-connected flip-flops sold by criminal gangs for up to 600,000 rupees ($8,000) per pair are reportedly the latest method of cheating.


    On September 26, around 4,000 examination sites were set up across the Indian state for the Rajasthan Teacher Eligibility Test (REET). The exam had not been given since 2018, and it is considered a gateway into a teaching career, which is a valuable option for many. For dozens of candidates caught last Sunday, it was important enough to risk cheating on the exam and ending up in jail.

    Authorities thought they had everything covered, with the internet cut off statewide, shoes and sandals banned in testing facilities, and comprehensive screenings at access points, but cheaters always find a way. Over a dozen of them were spotted wearing flip-flops with a SIM card hidden inside.

    via GIPHY


    “The slippers had a SIM card, and the candidates were implanted with a tiny Bluetooth bug in their ears. “In one case, we needed a doctor’s help to discover the bug since it was so firmly implanted,” one police officer told The National.

    The objective of the cheaters was to have outside accomplices phone their flip flops so they could surreptitiously dictate the answers to them and then receive the answers in return. Only a few of the prospective teachers began behaving abnormally before entering the exam rooms, prompting an additional thorough search that found the high-tech boots.

    “We were aware of the possibilities of cheating, but we assumed it would be a question paper leak or someone using the internet, which is why it was prohibited in several cities,” said Priti Chandra, a police official. “But this was a completely new way of doing things. They are becoming increasingly technologically savvy.”

    The rubber flip-flops were apparently designed by a gang that obtained the requisite components for roughly 30,000 rupees ($400) and then sold them to Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers participants for a whopping 600,000 rupees ($8,000) each pair.

    A total of 25 people were caught wearing a pair during this week’s exam. The number could have been greater, but as the cheaters were caught the information regarding the novel method was shared with several districts, prompting many centers to ask the candidates to remove their footwear outside the exam halls.

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