Action urged over how-to videos for fake documents


By Nadeem Badshah

FRAUDSTERS are posting videos on YouTube showing people how to make fake passports and Indian Aadhar cards, an Eastern Eye investigation has found.

The world’s biggest video sharing website has been urged to take action with concerns that criminals could learn the tricks in the footage and dupe migrants in the UK and south Asia.

One step-by-step guide in Hindi, viewed more than 7000 times, showed how to make bogus Aadhar identity and Permanent Account Number (PAN) tax cards using a phone app called “Fake ID Maker”.

Another 15-minute video in Bengali, seen more than 44,000 times, explained how to put together a fraudulent passport, while another clip lasting nearly two minutes showed a website offering to sell fake British passports and ID documents from various countries.

Amjad Malik, an immigration solicitor based in Greater Manchester, warned it is a criminal offence to forge or sell documents and incite others to make such documents.

He told Eastern Eye: “Identity documents are only issued by government departments of that country that include passports, identity cards and driving licences and or any photo ID.

“Police can take action to block those sites in their jurisdiction, report and take action under cyber crime laws and ask YouTube to delete such sites.

“Forged documents leads to many other criminal activities such as trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, organised crimes and in order to discourage such practices it must be reported as quickly as possible.”

The Home Office estimates the cost of fraud to individuals in England and Wales is £4.7 billion per year.

There were 3.6 million fraud offences in England and Wales in 2018 alone with it accounting for almost one third of all crime, The Office of National Statistics said.

Gurpal Virdi, a former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant, called for websites advertising forged documents to be shut down swiftly and a new law enforcement department to tackle tech and cyber crime.

He told Eastern Eye: “Technology moves at such a fast pace and the police are always catching up with those who are in the market of providing false identities.

“Police do recover items used in forgeries during searches and police do receive information regarding this.

“However, many officers are not up to date with technology and some even miss or fail to detect forged documents.

“Sometimes, the police get good information and by the time it is passed on to the correct specialist department it is too late as these people have moved on.

“A way forward is to employ youngsters who are in this field, they know the technical advances and are able to bypass them.”

Applications for a British passport are made through the gov.uk website. It costs £75.50 for an adult to apply online and £49 for a child under 16.

For Aadhar identity cards in India, people have to attend an appointment at an enrollment centre.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood called for a voluntary code for social media platforms to root out criminal activity.

He said: “This is clear criminal activity, people should take responsibility, they will be prosecuted if caught and should not follow this.

“Authorities should pick up this material quickly, YouTube showing criminal tutorials on their site, it is ridiculous that this carries on.

“Platform providers are not putting enough resources into this, its their responsibility to ensure it is safe and within the law.

“You can pass these videos in circles and WhatsApp groups, social media firms should pay attention to this.”

YouTube was contacted for comment.

In 2018, this newspaper found that migrants were being targeted by scammers selling fake British passports on Facebook.

The fictitious travel documents and ID cards were on the social media website for between £800 and £2,600.

In response to our findings, Facebook said counterfeit items are not allowed as they breach its rules and urged people to use its reporting tools to flag content they suspect may be illegal or violate its standards so it can be moved.