I am a college instructor at a university in the United States. I am giving an exam to my students in a few days, and I am aware that some of them are having conversations about making a Zoom meeting to take the exam together. I take cheating seriously, trying to both dissuade and catch. Nevertheless, if I end up having access to this Zoom meeting, I am not quite sure about what I should do. The exam can be submitted any time during a 24h period, and it is not proctored. I am aware that those conditions could be different, but they are not going to change for this exam.
If I decide not to do anything, I am giving unfair advantage to students not following the academic integrity policy at the school. There is a chance I could present a strong case for the cheating if they are not careful and their answers look identical, but that's not guaranteed.
If I decided to join the meeting using my real Zoom/email address, my guess is that they would get scared right away and leave. If I want to get any information in this scenario, I would have to capture my screen to see who was connected to that meeting. Even if they are using their real names, I would just have a list of the students who were on the call at that moment, and would have zero evidence of what they were talking about.
If I wanted to avoid that, I would have to use a fake Zoom account, which already feels like not the right thing to do. That might give me the chance to stay on the call, and see evidence that it is being used for cheating. But this evidence would just be for me unless I capture my screen/audio, which seems like another thing that might not be right to do.
I am sending them a letter offering my views on academic integrity, in the dissuasion front, but I don't think that would dissuade the proponents of this Zoom call.
What do you think would be the best course of action?