Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency) recently released their serious organised crime threat assessment for 2017 which analyses and identifies the key crime threats facing the EU. The report particularly caught my attention, not just because of my police background, but also because of the focus on document fraud.
The Europol Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment report focuses on 3 primary areas as the ‘engines of organised crime’ - money laundering, the online trade of illicit good and services and document fraud. It states that these 3 things facilitate most, if not all, other serious and organised crime. The report highlights:
- Document fraud is linked to several main crime areas, including fraud, migrant smuggling, property crime and money laundering
- Document fraud is expected to be one of fastest growing crime areas over the coming years
- The quality of forged identity documents is increasing as ever more sophisticated security features protect genuine documents
- The number of lost and stolen documents in circulation is significantly growing and regional conflict allows criminal groups to more easily obtain blank documents from those areas
- A single fraudulent document can be used repeatedly to support different criminal activities.
A particularly interesting case study highlighted in the report talks about an Europol investigation in 2016 which uncovered a Greek network of document forgers. They were producing fraudulent passports, national ID cards, visa, driving licenses, asylum seekers’ registration cards and residence permits and charging between 100 and 3000 Euros depending on the quality, type and country of issue.
All of this backs up the experience of the TrustID team – that forged or fraudulently obtained documents are valuable tools for criminals and that the number of documents in circulation is growing. We see more referrals to our helpdesk team every month – with March set to break all the records for fake documents.
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