How CBI detained Russian national who was allegedly involved in hacking JEE (Mains) 2021 exam software

A day after the case was lodged in 2021, the CBI conducted searches at as many as 19 locations in Delhi and other NCR areas, Pune, Jamshedpur, Indore and Bengaluru
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

On October 3, Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claimed that it has blown the lid off a widespread racket that involves a Russian national who has allegedly tampered with and even hacked the computer systems of Joint Entrance Examination (Mains) candidates last year to aid a few aspiring candidates to gain admission to top NITs, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express

Sources at CBI said that the sleuths of the agency questioned the Russian national, who has been identified as Mikhail Shargin, after he arrived at IGI airport from Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Involvement of Russian national
The sources informed that Mikhail Shargin was detained by the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) after it acted on a 'Look Out Circular' issued against him some time ago.

After the intense questioning and follow-up investigations, the CBI found the involvement of "foreign nationals" who allegedly "compromised many online examinations, including the JEE (Mains-2021 by colluding with other accused persons". 

While the CBI was wary to disclose whether Shargin was involved in "breaking" the JEE (Mains) software, agency sources said that "a Russian national was revealed" to have allegedly tampered with the iLeon software — the platform on which the examination was conducted — and that he had helped the other accused persons in hacking the computer systems of suspected candidates during the test.

What did the CBI find?
The CBI, which was probing the case since September last year, found that the three directors of Affinity Education, Siddharth Krishna, Vishwambhar Mani Tripathi and Govind Varshney, besides other touts and associates had allegedly manipulated the JEE (Mains) examination. 

A case has been registered against the three directors and other "conduits". The company's staff posted at one of the examination centres and "other unknown persons" committed the irregularities.

"They facilitated aspiring students to get admission to top NITs in consideration for huge amounts by solving the question paper" of an applicant through "remote access from a chosen examination centre at Sonepat in Haryana". 

It was the CBI who had found that Affinity Education's directors would "obtain" the Class X and XII marksheets, user IDs, passwords and post-dated cheques of aspiring students in different parts of India as "security". 

Once the admission process is completed, Krishna, Tripathi and Varshney would "collect heavy amounts" ranging between Rs 12 and 15 lakh per candidate. 

A day after the case was lodged in 2021, the CBI conducted searches at as many as 19 locations in Delhi and other NCR areas, Pune, Jamshedpur, Indore and Bengaluru, leading to the recovery of 25 laptops, seven PCs, about 30 post-dated cheques besides "voluminous incriminating documents and devices, including marksheets of different students".

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