19 August 2016
A group of fraudsters who spent four years taking driving tests for other people have been sentenced to three years in prison.
(Left to right - Julian, Petkov, Matluma, Trstena)
The group, headed by Dzemail Trstena, aged 45, from Belgium, charged provisional licence holders up to £2,500 to sit theory or practical driving tests for them at centres all around the Home Counties and West Midlands.
A joint investigation between the NCA and Met Police’s Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) and the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) identified that the same person, Emil Petkov, aged 30, from Bulgaria, was the subject of a large number of impersonation reports being filed by test centres. CCTV footage confirmed Petkov being turned away from over 30 theory tests between 2010 and 2014 when the photographic ID he presented was not his.
Investigators identified two further impersonators, Musa Matluma, aged 34, from Macedonia, who was arrested on 30 June 2014 whilst fraudulently sitting a theory test, and Colin Julian, aged 42, a bus driver from the UK.
Trstena and Julian were arrested at their homes on 1 July 2014, while Petkov handed himself in to Leytonstone Police Station later that day. Searches found them to be in possession of a large number of provisional licences and theory test booking documents.
Julian and Trstena are known to have been responsible for a successful practical driving test impersonation at Kettering in June 2014, however the total number of successful tests cannot be quantified.
Seven provisional licence holders, whose documents were found in the group’s possession, have also been prosecuted. Investigators believe their main motivation in using impersonators was to bypass the language restriction of taking the test in English or Welsh.
Trstena, Petkov and Julian were sentenced on 12 August at Blackfriars Crown Court to 15, 12 and 9 months respectively. Matluma was sentenced along with the seven provisional licence holders in March 2016 at the same court. Full details below.
Spencer Barnett from the Organised Crime Partnership said:
“These men conspired to make a criminal profit with no regard for the risk that they were helping potentially dangerous and unskilled drivers onto Britain’s roads.
“Trstena was the coordinator, ferrying his fake candidates to test centres around the country and adopting the role of ‘instructor’ as part of the fraud.
“We will never know how many tests they successfully cheated, but they were brazen and persistent in their repeated attempts. I have no doubt that they would have kept going had we not stopped them when we did.”
Andy Rice, Head of Counter-Fraud & Investigations at DVSA said:
“Although instances of impersonation fraud are rare in relation to over 3m theory and practical driving tests which are taken each year, DVSA continues to take them seriously, and work closely with the police and NCA to bring offenders to justice.”
“Impersonators taking tests on behalf of others allow untested and unqualified drivers onto our roads. These unqualified individuals pose a real risk to other road users and pedestrians as they have never been tested to ensure that they meet the minimum standards for driving and are unsafe.”
“This sentence sends out a clear message that those who put road users and the public at risk by cheating the driving test process, will be pursued and prosecuted.
” The Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) brings together officers from the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service to protect the communities of London from the harms inflicted by organised crime.