Record numbers of learner drivers have been getting impersonators to take their driving tests, according to figures from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The data shows that 677 "impersonation investigations" started in the nine months between 1 April and 31 December last year - easily eclipsing the total of 554 over the course of the entire previous year.
If the figure continues to rise at the same rate over the last three months of the financial year, it would beat the record of 816 set in 2011/12.
The findings were revealed following a freedom of information (FOI) request from the Times (£) who report that criminal gangs are charging up to £1,800 for lookalikes to sit theory and practical tests.
The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly. Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.
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. Thankfully this type of crime is extremely rare.
Alastair Peoples, DVSA chief executive
The DVSA has suggested that a rise in cases may be because of improved detection techniques from staff rather than a rise in sheer numbers. The majority of cases - 619 - this year were from theory tests while only 47 were reported in practical tests.