Monday, February 4, 2019
UK: Muslim organization caught helping migrants cheat on citizenship test
Gangs are helping foreign nationals cheat their UK citizenship application test with the use of earpieces, a BBC investigation has revealed. For a fee of up to £2,000, criminals secretly listen in and, via a hidden earpiece, give the answers to those taking the Life in the UK test.
Such an operation was secretly filmed by a BBC journalist, who was given help to pass. The test's failed by about 1 in 5 would-be British citizens. The Home Office said it took any cheating "extremely seriously".
A pass in the test, which assesses candidates’ knowledge of UK laws, history and society, is usually required as part of the process to secure UK citizenship or indefinite leave to remain.
The number of applications for citizenship made by EU nationals rose by 32% last year and the BBC heard some were paying criminals to cheat the Life in the UK test, as anxiety grows over citizenship rights post-Brexit.
One woman told the BBC she decided to cheat after failing first time around, saying she "felt so much panic" about her situation. The test, that's taken on a computer and has a pass mark of at least 18 correct answers, is supposed to be held under strict exam conditions.
BBC researchers were able to access organised cheating when they went undercover at training academies in and around London, where candidates take classes to prepare for the test.
Masoud Abul Raza runs the Ideal Learning Academy in east London. He was filmed telling an undercover researcher that he could guarantee a pass.
"You have to spend nearly £2,000. This is the business, it’s completely hidden. But you're getting a result," he said.
Mr Abul Raza and his gang later provided the undercover researcher with a hidden 2-way earpiece, linked wirelessly through a Bluetooth connection to a concealed mobile phone with an open line. This meant the gang outside could hear the audio feed of the test questions and provide the answers.
"Everything will be arranged. He'll give you the answer," Mr Abul Raza told the undercover journalist.
Tony Smith, the former director general of the UK Border Force, was shown the secretly recorded footage and described it as "clear and blatant cheating by an organised crime gang"
The BBC heard reports of other training academies doing the same thing, with the same method of cheating having been used at testing centres around the UK. At the English Language Training Academy (ELTA) in east London, Ashraf Rahman told the BBC’s undercover researcher that he had arranged cheating in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as London.
"I’ve been here for 5 years and no-one gets caught," he said. Mr Rahman later denied he arranged cheating, claiming he was just discussing what others did
at 7:13 PM