One Instagram account, with almost 17,000 followers, claims to be run by an “IDP database executive manager” and offers “authentic and valid IELTS/PTE without taking the exams”.
Another account with almost 10,000 followers advertises services including leaked exam questions, score ‘upgrades’ and ‘controlling’ results while students take exams.
Similarly, across TikTok, accounts use the IDP and IELTS logos to help sell “genuine and authentic IELTS certificates” without taking exams, while other fraudsters run paid advertisements on Facebook using the IDP name.
There are also numerous websites online offering to generate fake certificates. In one case, the site claims to be run by “insiders of the British Council” who have “full control of the database”.
It is unclear whether any services of these kind pass checks by immigration staff and institutions. IDP said that its IELTS online verification service enables the organisations that accept the exam to “quickly and securely” verify test report forms.
Sushil Sukhwani, director of Edwise International, said fake IELTS scores and certificates have “plagued” the sector for a long time.
In 2022, six men were arrested as they attempted to illegally cross into the US from Canada. They had entered Canada on student visas but, when they appeared in court, the men required a translator to help them understand English and a subsequent investigation found they had obtained IELTS certificates fraudulently.
Fraudsters also appear to be targeting agents. Sukhwani shared an email with The PIE News sent to a member of his team from someone offering to take the IELTs exam in place of customers.
Both the British Council and IDP have previously issued warnings about these schemes.
On its website, the British Council in Vietnam says, “Fraudsters advertise widely online on social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.), in forums, through dedicated websites, emails or messaging applications.
“Fraudsters may also approach test takers in person at test centres, test venues or at preparation schools, claiming to have insider connections.”
“Those who attempt to purchase these items are wasting their money”
The British Council advises students against believing these “false claims and scam offers” and warns that penalties for “malpractice” include a two-year ban on taking IELTS tests.
IDP told The PIE that it “strongly discourages” communication with people offering these services.
“Those who attempt to purchase these items are wasting their money and significantly risking their future opportunities with recognising organisations.”
IDP said it is working with social media channels to have these adverts taken down and that it has “processes in place” to ensure websites offering fake IELTS certificates are taken down.
IDP added, “Anyone offering to sell IELTS Results or IELTS Test Report Forms (TRFs) is committing a serious crime. Anyone who has been approached to buy IELTS Results or TRFs is encouraged to immediately report this activity to the police.”