Seattle Driving School Instructor Sold Fake Passing Marks To At Least 2,000 People



A Licensing Department audit report obtained by KING 5 alleges that some candidates who purchased passing grades did not know basic driving skills.

SEATTLE – New documents obtained by KING 5 reveal that a Seattle driving school sold bogus passing scores for hundreds of dollars to at least 2,000 applicants. In some cases, fraudulent tests have sold for thousands of dollars.

The details were outlined in a Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) audit report conducted by the agency’s Transportation Investigation and Fraud Unit in May.

DOL auditors discovered that instructors at the school had sold passing scores for up to $ 2,000 to $ 4,000, according to records, with the period of the alleged violations occurring between 2017 and June 2021.

RELATED: Seattle Driving School Surprises Selling Driving Test Notes

DOL investigators also found that the school sold the pass marks to candidates who had never taken any tests and, in some cases, did not know the basic rules of conduct.

In the report, auditors described anonymous complaints from employees who claimed that “many examiners [redacted] past are illiterate and have no driving skills. This is unfair to all other WA state licensees and a potential threat to road safety in WA, ”the report says.

Steve Wong, the former owner of the Rainier Ave S. school, voluntarily shut down his business following the May-June audit findings, according to DOL. The DOL said Wong was no longer licensed to operate a driving school in the state.

The report included surveillance photos taken by the DOL that showed applicants entering and leaving the school. Their activity, however, did not match the reported test times and dates that were submitted to DOL by the school.

Digging further, DOL investigators discovered that a Washington state soldier in Thurston County arrested a driver in July 2019 for a lane change violation. After turning on the lights and sirens and “several law enforcement officers” chased the driver for about ten kilometers, the driver did not immediately stop, according to the report.

“The driver said that [redacted] did not know what to do when a law enforcement officer used their emergency equipment. There is a distinct language barrier, “the report says.

The driver was a candidate for Emerald City Driving School and was told to retake a test and called back over a year later in May of this year.

Data from DOL’s test portal also indicated that several people had successful test results on days that no test was provided.

In another instance, on June 8, auditors discovered that test examiners never left the building except to “get away on their own.” The DOL test portal, however, showed that four skill tests were taken by Wong that day, according to the report.

Wong, the owner, also submitted a handwritten statement to DOL indicating that he charged $ 150 for knowledge tests, $ 400 for knowledge and skills tests and that when the person paid, they “passed without pass test “.

The DOL also asked Wong for a list of the people who bought the pass marks. Wong provided listeners with at least 14 names, according to the report. It is not known if DOL contacted the names listed.

In Washington state, people under the age of 18 who wish to obtain a driver’s license must take driver education courses before taking a driving knowledge and skills test.

Those over 18 can take courses if they wish, but are required to pass the tests in order to obtain a driver’s license.

People can take these tests at a DOL site or at private driving schools, such as the old Emerald City Driving School.

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