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Four imprisoned over UK TOEIC fraud scandal

Four men embroiled in a fraud scandal uncovered by BBC Panorama in 2014 have been sentenced to prison for rigging some 800 TOEIC tests in an effort to help test-takers cheat the UK’s immigration system.

ETS TOEIC scandal arrestsUndercover footage shot during BBC Panorama's investigation showed invigilators reading out the answers to an ETS TOEIC test. Photo: BBC/screenshot.

The fraudsters made more than £500,000 from students keen to extend their stay in the UK

Harinder Kumar, Talal Chowdhury, Shaheen Ahmed and Mohammad Hasan were found guilty of trying to breach immigration law, in a scheme that made them more than £500,000 from students keen to extend their stay in the UK.

“The defendants systematically and persistently used their knowledge of the system to make a significant amount of money”

The fraudsters were paid large sums of money to read out the answers during examinations or find substitutes to sit tests on behalf of candidates, a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

They also provided forged bank statements and academic records to help non-EU citizens on student visas to stay in the UK.

“The prosecution evidence showed the defendants systematically and persistently used their knowledge of the system to make a significant amount of money for themselves,” commented Kristin Jones, head of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, which brought the prosecution.

“We are grateful to the BBC Panorama team for their assistance in this case, which included obtaining compelling evidence which demonstrated the group’s actions to the jury,” she added.

Hasan was an invigilator at Eden College International – one of the test centres identified in the BBC’s 2014 investigation.

Kumar meanwhile ran an immigration advice service in Middlesex in southeast England called Student Way Education, which promised students a guaranteed pass on the TOEIC exam – which could at the time be used as proof of English proficiency for immigration purposes – for £500.

And Chowdhury and Ahmed used an education agency called Total Care London to direct immigrants willing to turn to extreme measures to obtain a visa extension to Eden College International, the jury was told.

Chowdhury and Ahmed were both sentenced to eight years imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.

Hasan and Kumar were sentenced to five and three years imprisonment respectively.

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