A report by BBC in June 2023 revealed that fraudsters targeting British citizens are extensively promoting illegal driving test assistance on social media.
More than 600 Facebook and TikTok pages, groups, and accounts with thousands of followers are promising licences without legitimate testing. Some offer practical test lookalikes, while others provide theory test aids through Bluetooth earpieces.
Meta and TikTok have since confirmed that such content breaches their guidelines. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has also cautioned drivers about scams, including fraudulent texts and emails requesting licence details and banking information.
Reports of these scams surged by 603% in the three months leading to September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The report shows that 8.6 million UK residents (16% of the population) have employed fake, fraudulent, or others’ identities to access goods, services, or credit.
Rising Number Of Driving Test Frauds
Exclusive figures shared with the BBC by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reveal a significant rise in reports of driving test fraud through impersonation. The number has more than tripled in the past five years, from 654 in 2018 to 2,015 in 2023.
BBC Verify’s analysis of data from Facebook and TikTok up to June 16 uncovered 669 pages, groups, and accounts with 138,900 followers advertising driving licence services without testing. Instagram also features these illicit ads.
These posts offer limited information on how they provide licences without tests, typically sharing only a mobile number or requesting direct message contact for more details. The BBC conducted an investigation by contacting individuals advertising these services, posing as someone without driving experience seeking a licence.
One Facebook advertiser said they could supply a UK driving licence for £720, with the pass certificate arriving in five days, without an actual test. The theory test costs £23, and the practical test costs £62.
One woman, advertising on Facebook in Vietnamese, charged £1,600 for the theory test and £2,600 for the practical driving test, totalling £4,200.
The BBC also found a woman who had paid for a fraudulent service, hiring someone via a Facebook post to take the practical test for her son, who had been struggling to pass. She paid the fraudster about £1,000, risking her son’s licence revocation, prosecution for fraud, and potential imprisonment or fines if he is caught.
Mitigating Fraud Challenges
The high number of fraud cases in the UK allows the rise of various companies specialising in verification and fraud prevention services. These types of services emphasise the critical need for thorough driver licence checks to counteract the rising tide of illicit driving licence services on social media.
In emphasizing the importance of meeting necessary driving standards, the DVSA underscores the potential consequences of failing to do so before assuming control of a vehicle. This failure could lead to severe injuries or, in extreme cases, fatalities.
The year 2022 witnessed the DVSA’s investigative team revoking hundreds of illegally obtained licences, initiating prosecution in cases involving 497 fraud offences by false representation, leading to 53 arrests. The agency acknowledges the formidable challenge of addressing the issue given the vastness of the internet and the rapid adaptability of fraudsters’ tactics.