Legislation will be drawn up to restrict print supplier behaviour if the industry fails to work with a Metropolitan Police initiative aimed at cracking down on global identity fraud.
Detective chief inspector Nick Downing, leader of the Project Genesius initiative, said selling just one printer to the wrong person potentially represented many thousands of pounds of fraud and was also “extremely dangerous” for the UK.
“We want to extend the reach of Genesius primarily to the SMBs and SMEs in this marketplace,” Downing said.
“False passports and ID cards are used for economic crime, such as fraud and accessing bank accounts; immigration, for people wanting to enter a country or already in a country illegally; benefit fraud; terrorism, as terrorists hide their identity to move across countries without documents; and organised crime, including kidnapping, drug trafficking, and people smuggling.”
Hundreds of thousands of forged passports, drivers’ licences and national ID cards worth many millions of pounds have been seized in makeshift factories across London in recent years. Failing voluntary compliance, the government will soon legislate, Downing warned.
Ninety print industry players have signed up to Project Genesius’s code of conduct in two years – which would reduce the number of printers, stamping equipment and the like sold to criminals – but that is out of 5,000-10,000 different outlets for such products.
Some suppliers might only sell one or two devices a year that could be used to forge identity documents, but if more suppliers followed the code of conduct, they would be alerted to suspect buyer circumstances.
“Suppliers should be suspicious of cash-only purchases, personal collection rather than delivery, no invoice required, no quibbling about the price, no company name, or different delivery address from the credit card, which are often the sign of a compromised credit card,” said Downing.
“We are certainly not saying everyone who operates from a residential address is a criminal. But when you get a few of those factors at once, you should be suspicious.”
Almost any product could be involved – from foil presses to office printers, glue and cotton thread.
Detective chief superintendent Nigel Mawer, head of the Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said the Met wanted to work with the industry rather than attack it.
“Organised crime is a business and it needs to have enablers,” Moore said. “It is more cost-effective to intervene via the middle men.”
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