RECORD NUMBERS of learner drivers are being caught attempting to cheat the driving test by hiring lookalikes, according to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The Times has reported that the government is attempting to clamp down on a fraud in which criminal gangs charge up to £1,800 for a lookalike to sit theory and practical exams for a learner driver.
Figures obtained from the DVSA with a freedom of information request show that in April to December 2014 there were 677 “impersonation investigations”.
Examiners and administrators are now being trained to check applicants’ facial features and verify their identity before tests begin. The increase in the use of lookalikes is believed to have begun after the DVSA clamped down on another big area of fraud – the use of corrupt interpreters – by banning learner drivers from using interpreters to translate questions.
Andy Rice, the DVSA’s head of fraud and integrity, said the rise might reflect improved detection rather than a real increase in fraudulent activity. So far 188 people have been arrested and 55 convictions handed down.
If detection in the final financial quarter of 2014 (until the end of March 2015) continues at a similar level to the past three quarters, the reported cases of impersonation could hit 900, breaking the previous record, 796 cases, in 2011-12.
Alastair Peoples, chief executive of the DVSA, said: “Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly. We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice.”