Three suspects linked to KCSE exam cheating syndicate arrested

KCSE material in an examination container in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, March 14, 2022. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) examination papers are being sold for as little as Sh500, police investigations show.

Detectives unmasked some of the people behind the leakage that may dent the exams’ credibility.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said those who want the entire exam were asked to deposit Sh20,000 into a bank account and the papers are delivered.

Three students were arrested after detectives attached to the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) posed as candidates in need of exam papers.

The fourth suspect, who DCI says is the mastermind, is still at large.

The four students formed a Telegram group dubbed ‘Kale Group’ created under the name ‘Bailing Out’.

One suspect, an Information and Technology student at Baringo Technical College, was the first to be arrested last Tuesday.  

Two days later, a first-year student taking a Bachelor of Arts degree at Rongo University, was arrested.

There are fears the integrity of this year’s exam has been compromised, following increased cases of candidates accessing papers in advance.

One suspect was arrested while administering English Paper 2 and Chemistry Paper 1 to students of Silibwet and Sitoito secondary schools in Molo. He was allegedly selling the papers for Sh500 each with his M-Pesa account having Sh10,000. He was also operating a KBC account at Kabarnet where he transfers cash received.

“In order to conceal his identity, the SIM card he was using was registered using the identification details of a different person,” the DCI said, adding that the suspect had engaged detectives in a hide-and-seek game before he was nabbed.

At Rongo University, investigators say they discovered a wider syndicate that facilitates exam leakage.

After being arrested, one of the suspects led undercover police to one of his accomplices who was found distributing the Kiswahili paper and preparing answers for the Chemistry practical paper.

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The detectives found the suspect in a candid conversation with a student. Their interactions centred on exam cheating, with the suspect assuring the student that the answers he provided were accurate.

“I got the papers one hour to the exams and tackled the questions,” the suspect said.

The DCI arrested the suspects through digital forensics. They intercepted tens of messages containing screenshots of the papers that are currently being examined.

Also found were handwritten answers, which will be subjected to forensic document examination at the National Forensic Laboratory.

“The suspect’s mobile phone had the entire KCSE examination material which was recovered by detectives. He said he had been working with other students at the institution who are still being pursued,” DCI said on its Twitter handle.

Investigators say it is an elaborate web of fraudsters comprising school heads, security agents, parents and college students whose mastermind is in Nandi County.

“Efforts by detectives show the syndicate also operates an account at Ecobank where candidates are being asked to deposit Sh5,000, or a discounted rate of Sh20,000 for the whole examination,” DCI says.

Meanwhile, cyber and digital forensic experts are analysing all subscribers in the WhatsApp and Telegram groups linked to the malpractice that is damaging the integrity of the examinations.