Would you know a fake document if you saw one? According to a recent survey from the Land Registry, fake documents is an increasing problem in house sales and purchases, with the average fake buyer scenario costing a seller £100,000. And it’s not just property conveyancing which is experiencing problems with counterfeits.

Fake Passports

Organisations across the UK have problems with fake passports shown by their employees. Right to work checks are carried out as a matter of course by all responsible employers, to make sure the Tgwoman was arrested for working illegally in Suffolk after getting her job using a fake Dutch passport. In April 2019, a counterfeiting gang was jailed for 13 years after producing an estimated 3,000 forged British passports and bank cards. In March 2019, a gang was arrested after an “Amazon-style” internet shopping site for fake documents was shut down in East London. The going rate for a fake passport is as little as £800, and with counterfeiters selling their products through social media sites like Facebook, it’s a problem which isn’t going to go away any time soon. There have even been reports of criminals offering “Black Friday” deals on fake documentation to attract customers in the pre-Christmas market.

Lettings Market and Fake Documents

New legislation came into effect a few months ago which means that landlords and letting agencies have to verify the identities of their adult renters, This is all part of the government drive to make it harder to be in the UK illegally and do things like getting a job or renting property. However, identity verification fraud is on the rise in the rental sector too. In 2018, lettings agents detected on average six cases of fraud per month. By 2019, this had more than doubled to over 13 cases per month. Could it just be that lettings agents are getting better at spotting fakes? Perhaps. But there are other potential explanations too.

Fakes in Recruitment

All job opportunities require you to show documents to prove who you are and that you have the right to work in the UK. As mentioned above, the fraudsters know about this requirement and will supply fake passports to illegal workers, or doctor real passports by changing details. Fake documents vary hugely in appearance. Some are highly professional and pretty hard to spot, whereas others are very poor quality.

What Do I Do If I Suspect a Fake?

The more documents you look at, the easier it is to spot when you are given something which isn’t quite right. The key piece of advice if you’re not sure whether a passport or other identity document is genuine is to keep hold of it. Don’t return it to the applicant. Seek advice from the Home Office or look online for the various security features embedded into passports and other documents to help you decide whether it’s real or not. With document counterfeiting on the rise, it’s more likely than ever that you’ll come across fakes if you work in recruitment or run your own business.