Driving theory test: Fraudster charged learner drivers in Sheffield £1,500 to take their theory test

A test centre in Sheffield was among his list of targets for the elaborate scam linked to an organised crime ring.
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A serial fraudster who charged learner drivers in Sheffield up to £1,500 to take their driving theory test has been jailed for a year.

Satwinder Singh, 34, took the tests - which cost just £23 - for non-English speakers over a four-year period as part of an 'organised crime ring'.

File photo. A serial fraudster charged learner drivers £1,500 to take their theory tests for them.File photo. A serial fraudster charged learner drivers £1,500 to take their theory tests for them.
File photo. A serial fraudster charged learner drivers £1,500 to take their theory tests for them.
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And prosecutors said during his sentencing at Reading Crown Court yesterday (Thurs) that he may have pocketed around £20,000 from his deception.

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) even issued pictures of Singh to centres as a warning as he travelled to test sites up and down the country.

He was finally arrested in June after he was recognised while trying to take an exam in Reading, Berks, and was found with a licence bearing the name Amritpal Singh.

Satwinder went on to admit the specific offence of impersonating genuine test candidates for payment at Person and Reed test centres.

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He also admitted possessing an article, a driving licence, for use in fraud.

And he accepted he had intended to deceive staff into believing he was Amritpal Singh in order to take a driving theory test under that name.

The court heard that staff had first become weary of Singh after he walked into a Pearson and Reed test centre on June 6 this year.

They noted that he did not look like the driver pictured on his license and recognised him from CCTV released by the DVSA as part of 'Operation Invincible'.

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He was first apprehended and then eventually arrested, but continued to falsely identify himself as Amritpal Singh.

However, police later found the keys to a Range Rover car on his person.

The luxury car was registered under his real name and he later admitted to imprisoning Mr Singh, an alleged friend, to take the test on his behalf for £400.

He went on to admit pulling the trick on at least 35 other occasions dating back to May 2019.

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The other test centres he targeted were in locations including Manchester, Sheffield, Southgate, Oxford, Aylesbury, Guildford, Staines and Bristol.

Prosecutor Sarita Bashir estimated that Singh, of Swansea, had made about £20,000 altogether.

Defending Singh, his barrister said that although his client has admitted to fraud, he denied being the organiser of the scheme.

He said: "The defendant does not admit the scheme was his, the organisation, finding clients.

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"There was quite plainly organisation here but the prosecution has put no evidence forward that Mr Singh was the organiser."

And sentencing Singh, Judge Norton said she accepted he'd had a "difficult start" to his life in Britain but said the only appropriate punishment was a year in prison.

She said: "There is a great deal of mitigation that has been put forward on your behalf.

"I've read about the difficult start you have had in this country and you're someone who has worked with and has been supported by your community who speaks highly of you.

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"However, there are aggravating factors. These were offences committed for financial gain."

She added his offences created a risk for road users by potentially enabling unqualified drivers onto the roads.

The case follows similar instances across the country, including Salim Basalim, 32, who admitted twelve counts of fraud and received a year in jail for taking tests.

Bolton Crown Court heard how he'd travelled to Bangor, Leeds, Preston and Finchley, North London, before he was finally cornered and sentenced in December last year.

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Another man, Mohammad Shoaib, 38, was given a community order after paying a 'ringer' £800 to take a test for him after he failed it 14 times.

A DVSA spokesperson said after Singh pleaded guilty: "Driving test fraud is a serious offence, and we're working closely with social media companies and other agencies to crack down and prosecute those attempting to cheat the system."