Police nail exam-cheating posse

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Police nail exam-cheating posse

A major exam cheating ring where fraudsters took English language exams for clients using forged identification cards was busted by police in Busan on Thursday.

The International Crime Division of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency announced Thursday that it arrested two suspects and booked 33 others on charges of impersonation and obstruction of business. Police said the two arrested suspects are brokers who took the internationally certified English tests Toeic and TEPS on behalf of clients using fake identification cards from abroad.

Police say the brokers charged between 3 to 5 million won ($2,690 to $4,480) per client and made a total of around 100 million won from their services. Three other brokers - at least one of whom is a Chinese citizen - whose whereabouts remain unknown have also been implicated in the cheating ring and have been placed on the police wanted list.

According to police, the 33 others booked on the charges were all clients: 19 office workers, five university students and six job seekers. All of them commissioned the illegal service for self-advancement, seeking employment, work promotions or university admission, police said.

One of the clients got a job at a major securities firm using scores obtained fraudulently. Another commissioned the service six times while preparing for a civil servant job. Several clients received perfect scores on the tests.

Toeic, which stands for Test of English for International Communication, and TEPS, or Test of English Proficiency developed by Seoul National University, are both tests commonly used by businesses and schools in Korea to evaluate candidates’ English proficiency. Police said that the suspects reached their clients through advertisements posted on the internet, which promised to raise exam scores for applicants.

To evade suspicion from test monitors, brokers used a phone application to blend their pictures with those of their clients to produce a passable photograph. These photos were then sent to Thailand, where they were used to create fake Korean driver’s licenses or national identification cards, police said.

“Forged identification made from blended photos can be used for other crimes,” said a police spokesman. “Fraud for exams like the Toeic, which is commonly used to evaluate candidates’ skills, is an act that undermines fair competition in society.”

Police added that the money made by the brokers were already spent, mostly on gambling debts and living expenses.

To prevent ID forgery in the future, police say they plan to recommend that authorities require that such documentation only use photographs taken on site and the implementation of accurate face-scanning technology.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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