RAC Cars News


Driving Test Fraud Rising

By raccars Published

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According to figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the number of learner drivers hiring impersonators to take their driving tests has risen in the last year. Over 670 incidences of cheating via impersonators have been reported already for the financial year 2014/2015, more than 20% higher than the previous year.

The DVSA is concerned that other road users are being put at risk by driving test fraud and is working carefully to detect cases. The agency released figures relating to driving test fraud by impersonation over the past ten years, after the Times newspaper issued a Freedom of Information request.

677 cases were recorded from April-December 2014, compared to 554 for the complete financial year 2013/2014. 628 driving test fraud cases were reported in 2012/2013. 2011/2012 was the worst year in the last decade for driving test fraud, with 816 cases, but with three months still left to account for in 2014/2015, that figure could yet be surpassed.

To date, 188 arrests have been made for the offence in 2014/2015, resulting in 55 convictions for fraud. Jail sentences were given to 37 offenders and 97 saw their driving licences revoked.

The danger is that drivers are being given their licences without a sufficient level of skill, potentially endangering other road users. The DVSA is working with police forces to detect and punish learner driver impersonation cases.

The cases occur when learner drivers due to take their tests hire lookalikes to sit the test in their place, in order to be sure of securing a pass. Some go to quite dramatic lengths to ensure a realistic impersonation, including false beards, wigs and prosthetic masks. Impersonators can charge up to £1,000 per test by passing as the candidate seen in the picture on a provisional licence.

Not all driving test fraudsters use their new licences to get behind the wheel, with some using them to commit identity fraud or other crimes. The DVLA has been sharpening up security over the last couple of years, including using laser engraved photographs for driving licences, which result in a more detailed photograph which is harder for impostors to match. Previous investigations revealed professional learner driver impersonators, who can sit from 500-1,000 tests each and use the crime as their main source of income. Foreign test candidates whose English is of a poor standard and those hoping to obtain a licence without having to pay for expensive driving lessons, are apparently the most common users of impersonators to take their tests.

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