Police have detained 10 people in Huainan, Anhui province, suspected of helping dozens of students cheat on last year's national examination for licensed pharmacists.
Nine suspects are from vocational training companies in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, while the other one, from Shandong province, is accused of providing the cheating devices.
When inspecting an examination room in Huainan on Nov 18－the first day of the two-day exam－police noticed a female examinee, surnamed Bu, staring at something resembling an eraser.
"We checked the 'eraser' and found it was actually a tiny device with a display screen that could receive messages," said Gao Kun, a police officer from Huainan's Shannan New District.
"Twenty-six more examinees from multiple provinces were later caught at the site for the same reason," said Gao, who has been leading the investigation team.
The detained suspects also include Bu's boss, surnamed Xie, who works at a pharmacy in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. Xie had also taken the exam and got caught after Bu.
China Food and Drug Administration rules state that pharmacy owners should be licensed pharmacists, as should other key employees.
Xie had consulted Hangpass Education, a private training company in Zhenjiang, about the exam. The firm promised the trainees could pass the exam, and that each trainee should pay 60,000 yuan ($9,200).
He then asked some of his employees and relatives to take the exam with the company's assistance. "The company didn't give us any training until a week before the exam. They gave us the entry tickets for the exam and told us to travel to Huainan," he said.
Two men, surnamed Wang and Liu, from a training company in Xuzhou, Jiangsu, were directly responsible for the cheating, with devices bought from Linyi, Shandong province. Wang and Liu charged 10,000 yuan for each examinee.
Though the examinees were not among those detained, they will face severe punishment from human resources authorities, including a record in their personal file, which could affect their careers.
Local prosecutors have approved the arrest of the man selling the devices, while the rest have been released on bail and could still face charges.
Gao said organizing cheating in exams is a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. He added that more people will likely be detained during the investigation.