Global Fraud Focus

Fake passport online?

Coming right up

Fraudsters, terrorists and miscreants of all sorts can now travel more easily across borders because they no longer have to pay big bucks to the shady passport maker down the alley. They can quickly find quality, affordable fake passports at several websites on the "dark web."

I looked on the dark web (hidden areas where criminals sometimes lurk) and found many sites offering bogus passports. I'll highlight two among thousands around the world.

One site contains small print that reads, "We are selling original UK Passports made with your info/picture. Also, your info will get entered into the official passport database. So its [sic] possible to travel with our passports. … You can even enter the UK/EU with our passports, we can just add a stamp for the country you are in! Ideal for people who want to work in the EU/UK." The cost is £2000 or 12.883 bitcoins.

Another site offers U.S. passports and even citizenship! The small print reads, "We offer bulletproof USA passports + SSN + Drivers License and Birth Certificate and other papers making you an official citizen of the USA! It will even work if you arent [sic] in the USA yet.

"How we do it? Trade secret! But we can assure you that you wont [sic] have any problems with our papers.

"We are shipping documents from the USA, international shipping is no problem. You can use your own name or a new name!

"Information on how to send us required info (scanned signature, biometric picture etc.) will be given after purchase."

The cost is $5,900 or 24.748 bitcoins.

No doubt some of the scores of fake-passport sites are fraudulent traps. After all, victims — who are criminals themselves — aren't going to report their activities to the authorities.

But you don't need to go to the dark web to find such services. A Google search on "novelty id" or "replacement bank accounts" reveals millions of results. A quick trawl shows websites that offer to replace wage slips, tax documents, bank accounts, utility bills, identity cards and passports. Some even offer buy-one, get-one free services!

The terms and conditions on most of these sites say that buyers purchase with the understanding they won't use the documents for unlawful purposes, and the seller supplies them with the understanding that the documents are for "novelty and entertainment purposes only." Ha! These caveats are intended as defenses against any prosecution. However, in the U.K., the Fraud Act 2006, section 6, says a person is guilty of an offense "if he has in his possession or under his control any article for use in the course of or in connection with any fraud." Considering the overall content of these sites — copy extolling the products' quality, printing techniques and security fixtures versus the fine-print disclaimers — I doubt if any jury would give the site owners or customers the benefit of doubt. (For example, see:

Most of these sites, of course, don't contain postal addresses. A "whois" search of sites' IP addresses reveals companies outside the jurisdiction of the host targets. For example, a website selling fake U.K. passports and documents could reside in Sweden or might even change the location of its servers and company every six months to avoid investigation and detection.


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