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The spy who scammed me: Bond-esque gadgets used to help UK immigration cheats

by Tom 14/11/2008 15:43:00

In a surprising case of real-life cheats seemingly inspired by fictional spy thrillers, we've seen reports of cheats trying to scam UK immigration officials by helping migrants pass the Life in the UK test, using state-of-the-art spy gadgets that Q would be proud of.

Designed to test applicants on both their English language skills and UK-specific knowledge, the Life in the UK test is a set of 24 questions that must be completed according to strict exam conditions at an official testing centre. Most of the test questions are about life in the UK, as described in the 'Life in the United Kingdom' handbook, with a number of questions specific to which part of the UK an applicant lives in (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland).

Typically, concentrated study and preparation is what's key to passing the test.  However, two individuals have been caught illicitly trying to help some migrants take a shortcut to UK residency, using James Bond-esque surveillance gadgets. 

By equipping UK immigration applicants with hidden communication devices, Steven Lee and Rong Yang would help migrants pass the test, even though many of the fraudulent applicants had little to no comprehension of English. 

Using a buttonhole camera secreted on the applicant, Lee and Yang were able to view the test questions on a laptop screen outside the testing centre, before passing the correct answers back to the applicant through a hidden earpiece.

Unfortunately for Mr Lee and Ms Yang, it seems unlikely that they'll find a quantum of solace as a result of their illicit actions; both individuals have been convicted of breaching immigration law and will be jailed for eight months.

Of course, for those willing to take an honest approach to their test preparations, there are a number of options available, such as the Visa Bureau Life in the UK Test Preparation site. With over 1,000 test questions, accurate simulations of the official timed test and an online version of the handbook, it gives you everything you need be prepared, all in one place.

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau

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