Fraudsters, terrorists and miscreants can now travel more easily across borders because they no longer have to pay big bucks to the shady passport maker down the alley.
“It will give information on how to send us required info after purchase.” The cost is $5,900 or 24.748 bitcoins. No doubt, some of the scores of fake-passport sites are fraudulent traps. After all, victims — who are criminals themselves — aren’t going to report their activities to the authorities.
But you don’t need to go to the dark web to find such services. A Google search on “novelty id” or “replacement bank accounts” reveals millions of results. A quick trawl shows websites that offer to replace wage slips, tax documents, bank accounts, utility bills, identity cards and passports. Some even provide buy-one, get-one-free services!
The terms and conditions on most of these sites say that buyers purchase with the understanding they won’t use the documents for unlawful purposes. The seller supplies them with the understanding that the documents are for “novelty and entertainment purposes only.” Ha! These caveats are intended as defenses against any prosecution.
However, in the U.K., the Fraud Act 2006, section 6, says a person is guilty of an offense “if he has in his possession or under his control any article for use in the course of or in connection with any fraud.”
Considering the overall content of these sites — copy extolling the products’ quality, printing techniques and security fixtures versus the fine-print disclaimers — I doubt if any jury would give the site owners or customers the benefit of the doubt.
Most of these sites, of course, don’t contain postal addresses. A “whois” search of sites’ IP addresses reveals companies outside the jurisdiction of the host targets.
For example, a website selling fake U.K. passports and documents could reside in Sweden or even change the location of its servers and company every six months to avoid investigation and detection.