People fall victim to online scammers offering leaked IELTS test ‘papers’


After scoring 4.5 last year, Pham Nhung took the IELTS test several times but was unable to score higher.

The sophomore student at a university in Hanoi wants to score 6.0 as soon as possible to meet her school’s graduation criteria.

Earlier this year, she searched online for community groups selling IELTS exam papers.

After contacting a Page, a staff member offered three different packages: 599,000 VND ($24.45) for IELTS predicted questions every quarter until December 2022, a 5 million VND “Diamond” package with eight exam papers delivered two or three months before the exam and a VND 36 million “VIP” package with a “genuine” test with “100% accuracy” included.

The person told Nhung that the exam questions were “top secret” and obtained directly from the British Council and the IDP.

She purchased the Diamond package after seeing several good reviews on the page.

But the actual test didn’t match any of the exam papers she received. When she tried to get a refund from the, she was blocked.

Nhung is one of many who pay millions of dong for “genuine” IELTS tests with answers. Demand for IELTS is skyrocketing as more and more universities have made the certificate one of their admissions priorities.

In 2017, only a few colleges had IELTS as an admission requirement. But that number increased last year when more than 30 schools incorporated it into the admissions process.

There are many other similar scammers like the page contacted by Nhung who extracts 120 million VND with the promise that the candidates will receive the “genuine” test paper the day before the exam.

A Tiktok account with more than 10,000 followers even said online “Sell IELTS BC (British Council) – IDP” for VND5-45 million.

Steve Adams, Regional Exam Manager for East Asia at the British Council, said he was aware that there are many online and offline groups that tarnish the reputation of the IELTS exam.

They claim to have people working inside the IELTS test centers who can leak the test paper.

Some even claim to use the technology to “alter IELTS scores”, “produce fraudulent IELTS certificates without taking the actual exams” and “false test results on the online IELTS score confirmation system”.

These advertisements can be found on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, and are sent via email.

Scammers also often approach students at exam locations and test preparation centers.

Adams said such actions and marketing are fraudulent.

IDP has stated on its website that these services are a scam and a legal violation.

Diep Nang Binh, director of Tinh Thong Luat law firm and member of the HCMC bar association, said selling IELTS test papers with a 100% pass guarantee is tantamount to hoarding property by fraud and “deception”.

Applicants should report such groups to authorities and refrain from engaging in this “potentially risky financial and illegal” behavior, he added.

The British Council has warned that cheating could lead to exam results being voided, tests banned for two years and exams denied for a period at all IELTS test centres.

Nguyen Huong Ngoc Quynh, a University of London graduate who achieved an IELTS score of 9.0 in August this year, said learning English is a long process and acquiring counterfeit IELTS tests is a waste of money.

If students cannot afford preparatory courses, they can buy books and search for IELTS preparation materials online, she said.

“After all, the most effective method is to practice, practice and practice.”

Nhung, who lost money after being scammed into buying fake exam papers, decided to study hard for the next six months.

She has a friend, who scored 8.5 in IELTS, to tutor her twice a week.

She also regularly attends meetings with a large number of foreigners to improve her communication skills.

“I hope my hard work will pay off and I will score 6.0 in IELTS next year,” she said.

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