Kochi agency accused of scamming over 100 candidates for Goethe German exams

Over 100 affected; candidates, mostly students, risk visa expiry along with financial loss.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: Placing their futures at risk, over 100 candidates have allegedly been cheated by an agency that reportedly functioned as an intermediary for the Goethe-Institut’s examinations, designed to demonstrate knowledge in German as a second language or a foreign language for German citizenship.

The Goethe-Institut has, meanwhile, said that it has no connection with agencies that have been allegedly scamming students and job aspirants.

The applicants, who had registered with Kochi-based L Cloud Consultancy to secure a convenient exam time and centre for attending the A1 to C2 level proficiency exams at Goethe’s main centres in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai, are now seeking a refund or appropriate action.

On enquiring with the Goethe-Institut a few days before the dates indicated by the agency, they were reportedly informed that there were no exams scheduled for the days mentioned.

Apart from financial loss, the candidates, mostly students, risk visa expiry, which can disrupt their plans.

After the scandal emerged, the office of L Cloud, which functioned at Oberon Mall, has been vacated, reportedly for non-payment of rent.

“On May 9, me and 11 other candidates taking our B2-level examination opted for Chennai as the exam centre and transferred Rs 5,500 for each module to the accounts of L Cloud. We were told that the exam notification and confirmation would arrive by June 22, but nothing transpired even after June 24,” says Akshay Anand, from Kollam.

“We travelled to Chennai after the agency notified that the exam had been postponed to June 25. Later, we were told that the exam had been cancelled and that the amount paid would be refunded soon. But no action has followed,” he said.

“Two company representatives, Lijo Jacob John, from Chenkalam, Kollam, and Ajul Thara collected our money. They later changed their tone and told us to approach Goethe-Institut officials for the refund,” says Akshay. He alleged that L Cloud collected Rs 7,500-8,000 for each module from many students to secure examination centres in Kochi.

On why he approached the agency, Akhil Baiju, from Angamaly, said, “We are required to clear four modules to secure the B2-level certificate. By following the proper channels, it takes approximately six months for an intake. And certain institutions and agencies with a limited number of seats are the instant solution for aspirants.

We approached L Cloud after assuming that it is a trustworthy, he said. “We considered legal remedy, but felt that it would ruin our dreams of going abroad,” Akhil added.

‘No links with scammers’

In a clarification on its website, the Goethe-Institut said it has no connection with the agencies allegedly scamming students and job aspirants by promising examination slots and helping them clear German language proficiency tests.

The Institut added it condemns fraudulent activities of such agencies and warned that it will take all possible legal steps to protect students, examination candidates, and the institution's reputation.

Explaining the transparency in Goethe’s admission and examination process, Syed Ibrahim, honorary consul of Germany in Kerala, said, “The examinations are conducted every month and the admission process is completed after the interview of an aspirant. An aspirant can take admission in open mode via online, and there is no need for a mediated agency,” he said.

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