Fraudsters are targeting budding motorists who don’t want to sit – or have failed to pass – their driving tests by offering fake ‘full licences’ and supporting false certificates online for £600 each.
Scammers are advertising ‘inside access to driving test centres’ on Instagram, claiming it allows them to book and pass practical driving tests without the customer having to get behind the wheel, a BBC News investigation uncovered.
Those paying for the service are then not issued with their plastic driving licence cards of false test certificates as con artists make off with the funds and clients are unable to raise the issue with police over fears of prosecution for attempting to buy their way onto the road unlawfully.
It is the latest example of scams targeting motorists online and a recent crackdown on serial driving theory test impersonators who use a client’s details to sit their exams for them at a fee.
Scam alert! Fraudsters are using Instagram and WhatsApp for a racket promising to illegally supply ‘full driving licences’ for a fee, a new BBC News investigation has highlighted
Fraudsters are predominantly using Instagram to offer their illegal services and ask potential customers to contact them via the WhatsApp messaging app.
For a fee of anything up to £600, they claim they will supply a pink plastic licence card showing a full driving qualification and test certificates to a client’s home address showing their correct details and information, including their full name and birth date.
Customers are then sent images of what appears to be their updated driving licence status as shown on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s ‘view your licence’ page online, which displays the client as having a ‘full driving licence’ and registered with the DVLA database with all the required records to be on the road.
However, having sent examples of these images to the agency, BBC News were told the licence numbers displayed in these photos are made up and not registered on the DVLA database at all.
In a statement to the BBC, a DVLA spokesman said: ‘We are aware of these offers and are investigating similar claims.
‘We have so far found no evidence to suggest these claims are true or anything more than money-making scams.’
Instagram accounts claiming to have ‘inside access’ to DVLA and DVSA databases claim to be able to provide a number of services and produces, including full UK driving licences for £600
The DVLA said it has so far found no evidence to suggest these claims are true or anything more than ‘money-making scams’
Even if paying clients are sent the promised documents and ID cards, if stopped by the police and an officer cross-checks the licence number with DVLA records, the illegal motorist will be punished for driving without a valid licence.
Such an offence carries a fine of up to £1,000 and six points, which can carry over to a genuine licence if a licence is gained lawfully at a later date and result in disqualification.
Naive customers looking to cheat the system are not only losing out on money paid to scam artists but also risk having their personal details – including their full name, address and passport photo – used for other criminal and fraudulent activity.
‘Victims’ of the racket are who’ve tried to acquire a fake driving licence – prevalent across different parts of the country including London, Birmingham, Bradford and Liverpool – are unwilling to highlight the fraudulent service over fears they will be reprimanded for attempting to gain licences unlawfully.
This has allowed those behind the racket to continue fleecing more people looking to buy their way into driving.
Budding drivers can find posts on Instagram claiming to be able to provide agency services at a fee. Clients are asked to contact vendors via WhatsApp to arrange payment, though are likely to fail to provide the product promised once the funds have been transferred
Despite BBC News’ investigation, accounts such as this one remain on the social media site
Vendors also claim to have inside access to the agency’s database to be able to remove points, bans and revocations from qualified motorists’ records, as well as instate no claims bonuses if drivers don’t have them.
Scams targeting motorists have been a huge issue for both the DVLA and DVSA in recent years, with drivers falling foul of text message and emails from fraudsters impersonating the government agencies.
Alerts are sent to motorists claiming they need to take urgent action regarding VED car tax or driving licence payments and either asked to provide their personal details or are redirected to fake sites where they unsuspectingly give away their data or bank details.
There have also been cases of individuals offering their services to fraudulently pass driving theory tests on behalf of learners.
Last year, a Coventry man was jailed for two years and four months after being caught sitting driving theory tests for clients in exchange for money.
Swallaxadin Abdul Bashir, 42, had been offering his services at a cost to pass he tests for learners across 12 different test centres in England between October 2018 and August 2019.
He pleaded guilty to the offences at an earlier court hearing, which outlined that investigators found evidence of people booking tests with him on his mobile phone.
How scam artists are cheating driving theory tests…
The DVSA said there are two common ways people are trying to swindle their way through the current test.
The first is to use hidden Bluetooth headsets to read questions to an accomplice at the other end of the phone who can relay correct answers back from outside the examination room.
The second method is the one utilised by Mr Bashir: to have another person – usually well-versed in the test questions – sit the exam under their name, either as a favour for for financial gain.
While the volume of fraudulent theory test cases are on the rise, they represent a tiny proportion of the 1.8million driving exams sat every year.