Driving tests are being sold for as much as £200 amid a backlog in slots which has left learner drivers waiting months for their test.
An investigation by the BBC uncovered evidence that automated software was being used to book up tests before reselling them on for more than twice the standard rate.
In many parts of the country, the pandemic-caused backlog means drivers can wait up to six months before being able to get a test - forcing learners to switch to a secondary market to get theirs sooner.
The broadcaster reported some first-time drivers are paying companies which help find them test slots while others are buying from sellers offering test slots at an inflated price.
One person affected told the BBC that she had paid £210 for a cancelled test through an instructor in London.
The standard fee is £62 for a weekday test and £75 for one in an evening when booked through the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
“It was very on-the-go,” she said.
“My driving instructor would call me and say, 'Quick, there's a cancellation, do you want it?' The day we booked my test it all happened within a three or four-minute phone call.”
Others reported paying as high as £235 for a test.
The BBC said it registered on the DVSA's site as a fake driving school, which gave it access to a site which allowed it to mass book tests for multiple pupils, using a single contact number and email address.
However, it found that there was little verification and that appointments could in effect be purchased and then sold for a premium by swapping appointments.
Loveday Ryder, DVSA Chief Executive, said that the system had now been closed to new registrations.
“We’ve already put in place measures to monitor and prevent bots from accessing our systems while also strengthening our firewall to tackle the issue,” she said.
“We will continue to work tirelessly to crack down on companies that are exploiting learner drivers. We’ve closed the system to new registrations and will rapidly close down accounts that do not belong to driving instructors and driving schools.
“We’ll also be taking further steps to make sure all future accounts are linked to driving instructors and those with training businesses.”