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Trends in Fraudulent Identity Documents in 2023

Fake Document Trends 2022

Remote working, ongoing fraud risks and changes to Right to Work guidance have all led organisations of all sizes to operate more digitally and trust in technology-led identity checks. To put some context around that, in 2023, TrustID processed almost 600,000 identity checks for recruitment agencies, almost double the number submitted in 2022. We also delivered over 345,000 onboarding checks for the NHS and we continued to support Right to Work checks for almost all of the leading hospitality brands. 2023 also saw a wider range of industries turning to identity document validation technology (IDVT), including those in higher education (today TrustID supports around half of all UK universities), retailers of all sizes, not-for-profit organisations and software companies looking to recruit remotely.

During the course of performing many thousands of identity document verification checks for our customers, we detect and record a wide range of fake identity documents and monitor fraud trends. This blog is our annual analysis with insights taken from our customers’ Right to Work (RtW), Right to Rent (RtR), Know Your Customer (KYC) and counter fraud document checks.

What were the most common forms of fake documents in 2023?

In 2023, passports remained the most common fake document seen by our customers – a statistic which is constant across our last 3 years’ analysis. They made up 48% of the total of all fake documents we saw in 2023 which is a slight increase on last year. Male applicants have overwhelmingly dominated in fake passports with females presenting just a small percentage of those seen – this pattern has been consistent every month throughout the year.

The trend for fake passports isn’t hugely surprising as our customers increasingly rely on passports for remote identity validation, as part of Right to Rent, Right to Work and digital identity checks for DBS applications. However, any organisation checking passports using manual inspection alone should take note: confidence in what should be a ‘trusted’ and secure document shouldn’t lead to complacency. What’s more, an applicant who is trying to avoid a digital check may be happier to present a fraudulent passport to your team for a manual check, claiming they only hold an out-of-date British passport, for example, which isn’t eligible for Digital Scheme checks. Their hope is that you may scrutinise it less and this could put you at higher risk of accepting a fraudulent document.

Which country were most fake documents from in 2023?

Throughout 2023, we saw fraudulent identity documents claiming to be issued in over 40 countries. However, the fraudulent identity documents which our customers saw most often were British and Irish documents. In 2023, 68% of all fake documents were either a British passport or an Irish ID card.

In our 2022 round-up, we highlighted the huge growth in fraudulent Irish passport cards, linked largely to their inclusion as eligible documents for the digital Right to Work and Right to Rent Schemes. In 2023, this growth very much continued. In fact, our document analyst team noticed that throughout the year, British and Irish documents would swap on the top spot each month; one-month British documents would be the most prevalent and the next month, it would be Irish ID cards.

Of course, these documents are highly sought after by illegal immigrants as, unless detected, they allow the holder to gain employment or rent a property with no restrictions and without needing a follow-up check.

The growing emergence of ‘imposters’

In our last trends blog, we highlighted the need for organisations to watch out not only for fraudulent documents, but also for genuine identity documents being used by imposters. In 2023, we have seen the ‘imposter’ trend accelerate with fraudsters using two different routes:

The first is ‘share code imposters’, the growth of which can be seen below. These applicants are using genuine share codes to produce real Right to Work evidence via the Home Office online service, however, when we analyse their selfie image against that returned on Home Office report, the two images do not match. This may be perceived as an ‘easy’ route for fraudsters as a genuine share code can be easily and widely distributed and applicants may believe that your organisation won’t compare the photograph.


The second route is applicants presenting identity documents which are genuine, but which don’t belong to them. Passports made up over 70% of the genuine documents presented by imposters in 2023. ‘Borrowing’ a passport is clearly a much easier and cheaper route for a would-be fraudster than obtaining a good-quality fraudulent one.

This imposter trend reinforces the need to make sure that your applicant matches the person presenting the proof of identity, whether you are checking physical documents or using online options. You can either do this face-to-face or using a secure video link. Our customers also benefit from liveness and face matching technology, which analyses an applicant’s selfie photo against the image on the evidence which they are presenting to further protect against imposters.

Which sectors were most targeted by identity fraud in 2023?

In 2023, the sector that encountered the greatest number of fraudulent documents was restaurant chains with 20% of all fakes seen across our customer base from those recruiting hospitality staff. If you’re a hospitality brand, you should be vigilant when seeing Irish identity documents as fraudulent Irish passport cards were particularly prevalent in that sector.

Medical recruitment dropped from the top spot in 2022 but still remains in our top five with 9% of all fraudulent applications in 2023. Construction recruitment also continued its fall moving from first to third in 2022 to end up in fourth place in 2023. However, construction recruiters still see a high level of fake documents – 10% of all fraudulent documents in 2023.

What to look out for in 2024

Identity verification is increasingly seen as an essential anti-fraud measure and a tool to enhance onboarding and support compliance in a growing number of industries. With Right to Work and Right to Rent fines set to increase in 2024, the risk of getting checks wrong will spiral. Organizations of all sizes can protect themselves with technology from an Identity Service Provider (IDSP) which is accessible and affordable to all.

In 2024, we’re also predicting an acceleration in the adoption of digital identity checks as part of the DBS process. This may well further boost the number of fraudulent British and Irish documents we identify for our customers.

Want to find out more?

This annual analysis shows the way in which fraudsters operate continues to evolve. Organisations across all industries can benefit from technology and expert help to protect themselves from fraud.  As a government-certified IDSP, we are experts in identity documents. Get in touch to learn more about our document checking services or arrange a demo.