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  • Mark Salisbury

Driving test fraudsters advertising services on social media

Young man taking a driving test
Image: Gov.UK

Fraudsters who offer to help people illegally pass their UK driving tests are advertising their services widely across social media, an investigation by the BBC has found.

The BBC investigation discovered that more than 600 pages, groups and accounts exist on Facebook and TikTok promising licences without taking tests – many with thousands of followers.

Some suggest lookalikes to take the practical test – others offer theory test help via a Bluetooth earpiece.

Meta and TikTok told the BBC such content violates their guidelines.

BBC Verify analysed data from Facebook and TikTok and found as of 16 June there were at least 669 pages, groups and accounts with 138,900 followers which advertised driving licence services without taking a test. Adverts also appear on Instagram.

Reports of driving test fraud through impersonations have more than trebled in the past five years – from 654 in 2018 to 2,015 in 2023 – exclusive figures given to the BBC by the DVSA reveal.

It says the number of people who are being caught – and having their licences revoked – is increasing, although it remains a largely hidden problem.

Between April 2021 to March 2022, more than four million theory and practical car tests were taken in the UK, with a pass rate of about half.

The BBC investigation found social media platforms littered with posts in different languages. Many use genuine pictures of pass certificates and driving licences which have been taken from promotional images posted on real driving school social media accounts.

The posts provide limited information about how these licences are provided without taking a test, most posts just provide a mobile number or ask people to contact them for more information via a direct message.

The BBC contacted several people advertising these services on social media, posing as someone without any driving experience who was looking for a licence.

One man advertising on Facebook claimed he could provide a UK driving licence for £720, with the pass certificate delivered to the reporter’s home in five days – without anyone actually sitting a test.

A theory test costs £23 and the practical test £62, but the RAC estimates the total cost of learning to drive is £1,551 including tests and lessons – assuming the person passes first time. In Northern Ireland the tests cost £23 for the theory and £45.50 for the practical test.

One woman who advertised on Facebook in Vietnamese told our reporter she charged £1,600 for help with cheating the theory test and £2,600 for the practical driving test – a total of £4,200.

She said first she needed to see what the reporter looked like to ensure she had a suitable lookalike to take the tests.

The BBC also tracked down a woman who paid for a fraudulent service. She had found someone via a Facebook post to take the practical test for her son who had been struggling to pass.

The mother paid the fraudster about £1,000 after he had passed the test on her son’s behalf.

If the woman’s son is ever caught he would have his licence revoked and face prosecution for fraud, potentially resulting in a prison sentence and/or a fine.

Seb Goldin, CEO of RED Driver Training says: “Learner drivers are trained to pass their theory and practical tests so that they have the best possible education on how to keep roads safe. Without this knowledge, drivers are putting themselves and other road users at risk.

“Whilst we appreciate that test wait times are longer than expected due to the ongoing backlog, this does not give reason to take part in any fraudulent activity. These offerings are money-making scams that have no regard for the true test-readiness of the learner driver or the safety of other road users.

“Working with a professional instructor means that time and effort is put into ensuring drivers are ready and confident to pass their tests. Driving is a skill for life, meaning the learning process requires sufficient care and attention from both the pupil and instructor, in line with guidance from the DVSA.

“These fraudulent behaviours shouldn’t be encouraged over social media and it goes without saying that the DVLA is the only authority that can issue an authentic driving licence. Driving license fraud is a serious offence: it cannot be stressed enough how vital it is for all road users to have the correct knowledge and skill set.”

TikTok and Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, told the BBC that the solicitation of driving licence fraud is not allowed on their platforms and any content found that violates their guidelines will be removed.

TikTok also says it has taken action against a number of accounts following the BBC Investigation.

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