Expert advice on cybersecurity, cybersafety and cybercrime. Using real incidents, I explain why cyber risks occur, what form they take, and how they affect cybercitizens as individuals, employees, citizens and parents. Opinions expressed in this blog represent my personal views
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.
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
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.
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.
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.