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Online Vendors Responsible for “Much” of Sweden’s Fake ID Fraud

The Swedish government has planned measures to end the influx of fake IDs circulating the country. According to the police, this fake identity industry “can finance terror as well as other criminal activities.” One of the reasons Fake IDs are so easy to create is that there are too many forms of identification and too many institutions capable of issuing the IDs. Fake IDs are hardly recognizable, even by experts. And because of this, a government official explained, fake ID creators find the Swedish ID market to be a lucrative industry and have little difficulty flooding the market with fake IDs.

Jan Olsson of the National Fraud Center explained that one “can buy fake ID cards for the amount of 2,000, and up to 5,000 Swedish kronor.” Just recently, she wrote, the Swedish police, while investigating illegal weapons, discovered a counterfeit passport workshop. She added, though, that “much” of the counterfeit ID distribution occurs on the internet. In an example given by a Swedish publication, a journalist outlined the simplicity of the process in which one can obtain a fake identity. Similar to the recent investigation by the Guardian journalist, Paul Farrell, who demonstrated that the Australian government had a serious issue with the Medicare system by buying his own Medicare number from a darknet vendor.

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The journalist in Sweden reported that once on the darknet, it only took him a single hour to find a vendor of a fake ID. (I attempted to find the report online to understand why finding a vendor took an hour but the report was prepared for television.) Reportedly, the vendor sold drugs, weapons, “and even murders.” The publication explained that through this “multitude of sites that guarantee the anonymity of both the seller and the buyer,” people “suspected” that the Paris attackers armed themselves.

According to the reporter, the “anonymous seller” on the darknet pitched him an idea. The vendor offered to sell the reporter a Swedish passport and license for 770 dollars. The reporter only needed to provide the vendor with the money, his information, and a photograph. For an additional 100 dollars, the vendor offered to fraudulently stamp the passport. And one-week shipping times were included in the original price.

According to the report:

It is not known how often Swedish passports are bought by Darknet. Both merchants and sellers of counterfeit documents use bitcoin and email-encoded transactions, which makes capturing such cases extremely difficult. Even if the police wanted to [shut down] the Darknet or find out where the money from the transaction is, can not. Sites are hosted on servers in countries with which Sweden does not cooperate in this area.”

Upcoming laws to change the way official identification documents are racing the increasing levels of fraud and identity theft. The first changes, increased regulations, will not be in place until 2019.

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