Saturday, July 6, 2013

Buying Fake Passports for a Paltry Rs 20,000

Fake passports rackets are rampant in most parts of the world that depend on photographs as the principal form of identity proof. Aside from their use as a travel document, passports are an authentic source of citizenship in countries like India which do not have a national identity card.

Falsified passports are used for escape into exile, identity theft, age deception, illegal immigration, and organized crime. Passports are therefore sought after by immigrants from Bangladesh, those seeking low skilled foreign jobs, terrorists, criminals, and convicts fleeing from the country. Terrorists need to circumvent immigration laws and law enforcement "watch lists" to travel internationally in order to raise funds, recruit operatives, train the operatives and send them out to plan and conduct terrorist attacks.
Gangs that specialize in forged passports offer a wide range of services which include arranging a fake passport, replacement of photographs in the passport, fake visa, fake ECNR and even forged arrival/departure stampings. Passports are prepared in three ways: getting genuine passports using fake documents and bribes, physically alter a valid stolen passport by replacing pages/photographs with fake ones and fabricating passports.
Many of the passport rackets are in active connivance with corrupt passport, government and police officials who charge between Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 for each passport. The number of passports seized during each raid is in their hundreds which points to a significant demand for forged documents.
A Google search for passport rackets unearthed in India shows the scam to be prevalent in every major city. The most prized passport is a genuine one issued in a fake name as shown in this live new report of a recent bust in the northern Indian city of Kanpur. This weakness in our countries primary source of reliable identification is truly worrisome. It  will continue to remain so, until the Aadhar program for biometric identification for all Indians is fully operational and used by government departments like immigrations and banks.

Click to watch the clip on youtube at .


Interestingly the scam seems to be going online. An investigative article on the Russian cybercrime underground describes a Do It Yourself site for passports and other credentials. The web site promises a quick set of documents at a slightly lower quality and price. Many of these online solutions are actually scammers who believe that there is a quick buck to be made.
Passports are not the only documents that are fabricated and available for a price on the market. Other documents like pan cards, birth certificates, educational certificates, employment certificates are all available for a price. Besides fake credentials there have been instances of bogus universities set-up only for the purpose of issuing degree credentials and the hiring of substitutes to sit in for entrance examinations of prestigious colleges.

photo credit: gabriel.jorby via photopin cc

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