CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The NYS Inspector General’s office is currently looking into claims of people who are fraudulently obtaining learner permits. Local officials are asking for the NYS DMV to immediately suspend their online permit testing.

The DMV virtual permit testing program launched months ago to make it more convenient for New Yorkers to take their tests at home.

“They’re taking a 50 question test in less than four minutes. It’s obvious that they’re cheating,” said Frank Merola, Rensselear County Clerk.

Merola says he understands the convenience but says many of the people taking the test online are illegal immigrants who were allowed to obtain driver’s licenses under the State’s Green Light Law that passed in 2019. Merola says, because of the fraud, he’s now asking the state to suspend the online permit testing.

“It all started with the Green Light Law. Instead of allowing people to come in and take the test, they thought it would be much easier if they got people to take the test and got them to take it at home,” said Merola.

Officials from the State Department of Motor Vehicles is well aware of the issue and have implemented additional security measures to their online permit testing system. “…DMV has added a photo capture feature and several other safeguards since the application was introduced earlier this year. DMV routinely provides guidance to our district offices and to county clerks on what to look for in any documents that are presented as proof when customers come into the office,” said NYS DMV Spokesperson Tim O’Brien.

Four photos are taken of the individual during their online test. The pictures show proof that there is only one person answering the questions.

“We’ve had people come in, and we had a fraudulent where there was only a photo and they were missing in the next three, so we offered the test, to sit down and take the test and they walked out. They didn’t even want to take the test,” said Merola.

All customers who take the online permit test must come to the DMV office in person to present their proofs and have their photos taken.  They will not receive a permit if they do not successfully complete the additional steps in the office.  If their appearance does not match the images taken during the online permit test, the image is unclear, or their image did not appear during their online permit test, they will be asked to take the test again in the office. If their documents are flagged as invalid, they will be rejected and not be given a permit.

Tim O’Brien, NYS DMV Spokesperson

Taking and passing the online permit test does not allow a person to drive. After passing the online test, the individual must still come to the DMV office to obtain their learner’s permit.

“It happens every day, and it’s non stop, and I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Merola.