In my April blog, I reported on the rise in the number of fake documents from our customers within the construction sector. At that time, our research was viewed alongside the 2016 survey run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme which highlighted the rise of illegal working and our findings seemed to back up their results.
At the end of the second quarter of this year, we've once again been reviewing the identity documents which have been referred to our helpdesk team. And the analysis in this blog explores the continued challenges facing those customers in the construction industry in more depth.
During our analysis of Q2 2017, we discovered that 34% of all fake identity documents found by our clients were from those operating in the construction industry. In fact, this was the largest group of fake documents from any sector. Whilst the number of customers in the construction market has grown this year, it should also be noted that fake identity documents collectively across all client sectors increased by 39% compared to the first quarter of this year.
Our customers in the construction market have continued to grow significantly throughout Q1 and Q2 of 2017. We have seen huge traction in that sector from both main contractors who are tightening their policies and also subcontractors working on large construction sites that will only allow access to staff who have been validated and can prove their ‘right to work’ with an authenticated identity report. Our cloud-based service works particularly well for smaller contractors who need fewer on-site identity checks: it can be used from anywhere and we offer a ‘credits’ system for ID scans to be used as and when they need them – in fact, this quarter, the majority of construction-based fakes were found using this service.
As the rise in fake documents in construction continues, I think it’s important to look deeper into this issue to understand it better.
Firstly, we found that whilst “right to work” compliance appears to be the main driver in the detection of fake documents, construction is not the only sector which has been challenged in this area. This quarter has seen a cross cutting theme emerge, with payroll companies conducting identity checking and also seeing a steep rise in counterfeit documents. These payroll companies accounted for 19% of all fake documents found in Q2 and many of these companies provide services to construction firms, or individuals working in the industry. The rise in the documents found in payroll services is an additional indicator to the scale of the problem within construction.
Secondly, we examined the fake documents which our clients had found in both the construction and payroll sectors to identify where the risk lies in terms of the type of documents. And the analysis showed that 44% of all fake documents referred to our helpdesk team from these two sectors were passports, mainly purporting to originate from countries such as India, Nigeria, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Fake British residency documents also persist as a key document to watch.
However, the real trend this quarter relates to the emergence of the fake Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) with 21% of these documents being found in the two sectors. This is probably due to the fact that genuine BRPs are now more widespread and as such, the counterfeiters will be producing more fakes to illegal workers as an ‘acceptable’ identity document.
The scale of the problem does not stop here; the use of a fake identity document has a ripple effect beyond whether its holder is able to obtain work and its use can pose further questions when you scratch below the surface. One of these questions is around the use of bank accounts to facilitate the payment of wages and the potential associated fraud in opening these accounts by using a fake document.
Our Q2 analysis shows that the various identity verification solutions that we provide to the construction and payroll sectors are having a positive effect on the prevention of illegal working, with employers being able to protect themselves and minimise the risk from illegal employees.
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