Scammers on social media who claim to work for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency are selling “full driving licences” for £600, a BBC News investigation has found.
They claim to have inside access to driving test centres which allows them to book and pass practical driving tests without clients being present.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – which has responsibility for driving tests – said that was not possible.
They are money-making scams, it said.
It is illegal to drive without a valid licence. The punishment for doing so includes a fine of up to £1,000, up to six points on your licence and a possible disqualification.
The licence vendors claim to supply their clients with a plastic licence card and test certificate at their home address.
They also send clients an image of what appears to be their updated driving licence status as shown on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) “view your licence” webpage.
The client’s driving status reads “full driving licence”, which suggests they are on the DVLA database as registered to drive – despite having paid for their licence instead of taking and passing a driving test.
BBC News has discovered that these images are fraudulent mock-ups of the DVLA’s “view your licence” webpage and that the licence numbers clients are issued with are not on the agency’s database.
The BBC sent the examples of the licences to the DVLA.
In response, the DVLA said: “Only DVLA can issue a driving licence. We can confirm that the examples seen are not genuine.”
The licence vendors advertise their service on social media platforms such as Instagram, but urge any potential clients to message them privately on WhatsApp.
BBC News has acquired screenshots of text messages between clients and the licence vendors.
They show the vendor asking for personal details such as the client’s address, date of birth and a passport photo – information the seller says is required to issue a licence.
Text messages seen by the BBC also show the licence vendor discussing payments with his clients and them thanking him for his service.
To find out more about how the scammers operate, BBC News sent text messages to a vendor posing as a potential client. The vendor is asked if the DVLA would find out but is assured they wouldn’t because “we [the vendors] work for DVLA”.
In a phone call with the BBC, which was covertly recorded, the vendor went into more detail about how the fraud is carried out.
“We usually book your test for you and pass it without you actually being there but it’s gonna look like you were there” he said.
“If you do wanna go ahead, I’ll need your full name and provisional licence number.”
The vendor suggested he was able to cheat the driving test and pass people without them being present, allowing them to have their licence updated to a “full driving licence”.
He also told the BBC he could start the process that same day and everything would be done in “five to seven days”.
In a statement responding to the BBC’s investigation, the DVLA 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.”
Scarlett (not her real name) tried to acquire a driving licence from the vendor.
She told the BBC she came across his account on Instagram and “paid £500 for him to pass my driving test”.
Scarlett says that despite having paid the vendor, all she received was an image of her licence details.
“I checked the [licence] details he sent me but it was all fake,” she says. “I never received no licence just that picture.
“If you’ve found him, can you get my money back? I want my money back.”
BBC News has learnt of several others, like Scarlett, who’ve tried to acquire a driving licence from a licence vendor.
They come from different parts of the country, including Liverpool, Birmingham, North Yorkshire, Bradford and London.
In its statement to the BBC, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency warned members of the public against attempting to acquire licences illegally.
“The driving test is there to make sure all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly; trying to circumvent it is illegal and a serious danger to road users,” it said.