February 04, 2006

The Price for Your Identity

So what does it cost to forge an identity? Here's a list of costs (with updates moved to end) that lead us to the answer. First off, in Britain:

When interviewed the duo said they were conducting at least eight transactions a day, totalling around 5,000 sales over two years. A passport would cost £350, a national insurance card or a driving license would cost £50 to £75.

In Japan, driver's licences are no trouble if you know a Colombian (sorry, URL is duff, see below for full story).

The Hyogo prefectural police and other police headquarters have arrested 12 members of the ring, nine of them Colombians. The police reported that some of the suspects said that in addition to the forged passports, they bought bogus driver's licenses and cash cards before entering Japan for only 20 dollars.

Back to Britain, and the Sunday Herald dives into the business of undercover policework. Here's a heavily redacted snippage indicating a top-drawer contender.

He tells us one passport costs just over £1000, but if we buy more, the price drops to around £800. ... There, Pavel brings out a sample of the kind of passport he will be able to get for us. The passports are 100% authentic to the eye. ... British immigration and passport experts who examined the document on guarantee of anonymity said it was “the very best [they’d] ever seen”. It even passed an ultraviolet light test which British passport controllers use to show up hidden watermarks which are in every genuine document.

They said it was “real” and could easily be used to open a bank account without alerting any suspicion.
The officer, who takes the lead on ID theft within the SDEA, added: “There has been an upswing in the trade in fake documentation.

Addendums. Just found some numbers from an old post on EC:

Social Security cards run about $20, green cards about $70 and a California driver's license between $60 and $250. The price jumps up for higher-quality documents, such as IDs with magnetic strips containing real information — often from victims of identity theft.

Maybe that's where I got the idea from...

Please note that the purpose of collecting this information is for security researchers to form a validated view of what it costs an attacker to breach their designs (so I won't bother to point out where you can buy them).

Most security designs simply assume that collecting the identity of someone grants the holder magical security properties; unfortunately the truth is far less encouraging and the result is that relying on identity collection is probably only reliable for stopping honest people and your poorer class of criminal from defrauding the system.

Here's my predicted benchmark - forging any identity costs approximately 1000 (in today's major units). I'll update that as we get better into it.

20 dollars IDs foil immigration officials

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Colombians arrested here over their suspected involvement in a burglary ring entered Japan on fake passports and other forms of counterfeit identification purchased for only 20 dollars, police learned Thursday.

The Hyogo prefectural police quoted one of the suspects as saying there is an organization in Colombia that forges such documents.

The ring is suspected of committing more than 100 burglaries in 11 prefectures, including Osaka and Hyogo, over the last three years, netting items and cash worth hundreds of millions of yen.

The Hyogo prefectural police and other police headquarters have arrested 12 members of the ring, nine of them Colombians. The police reported that some of the suspects said that in addition to the forged passports, they bought bogus driver's licenses and cash cards before entering Japan for only 20 dollars.

Some of the suspects reportedly told the police that many houses are left unlocked in Japan, and people here pay little thought to crime prevention.

The suspects are believed to have sold electrical appliances and other stolen items and sent the money to relatives in Colombia.

According to the Hyogo prefectural police, one of the suspects previously had been deported from Japan, but returned on a fake passport.

The police arrested the alleged ringleader Akihiro Nagashima, 36, and two Colombian men in November on suspicion of stealing a television and other items from a house in Wakayama. Nagashima has been indicted on the charge.

The burglary ring is believed to comprise about 20 members, about 80 percent of whom are believed to be Colombians.

(Jan. 28, 2006)

¿ The Yomiuri Shimbun.


20060305 USA reports how much it costs to find false identities:

Glendining offers his doormen $20 gift certificates for each fake ID pulled. In recent years, the fake IDs have gotten better. “You really gotta make the best effort you can,” Glendining said.

The bar keeps a sample of real and fake IDs around for doormen to learn from. Telltale signs of a fake include IDs that crack when bent, eye color or height that doesn’t match or a nervous person shuffling. But oftentimes, it comes down to the feel of the ID.

Spotted in EC.

20060223. Israel:

The Israeli passport is considered to be one of the easiest passports to forge and can be purchased in Asia, and especially in Thailand's markets, for anywhere from USD 500 to 2000. The Israeli passport is in great demand because people carrying it can enter Asian countries without a visa. .... During interrogation, [six Iranians] confessed that they purchased the passports in Thailand for USD 1,000 for the purpose of entering Macau easily.

20060216, Britain:

LONDON: The head of security at Arsenal’s new stadium ran a racket supplying guards on the site with fake passports. Ademola Adeniran, 39, an illegal immigrant, supplied documents stamped with "indefinite leave to remain" for men working there. Adeniran, of Hackney, was caught with more than 100 fake Nigerian and South African passports when police raided his home. They are thought to be worth £200 each on the black market.

20060212. In Britain

London is a major centre for Asian and African gangs based in Thailand to sell counterfeit European passports, mostly to people from the Middle East, immigration police chief Pol Lt-Gen Suwat Thamrongsrisakul says. Immigration police last year seized 572 fake passports, of which 184 were Belgian, 155 Portuguese, 139 Spanish and 94 French, he said yesterday. All the counterfeits were printed in Bangkok, taken to London and sold for about 1,000 (about 68,000 baht) each by brokers who made about 20% profit on them, he said.

20060516. In Britain

"I charge £700 for each one but can give you a £100 discount if you order two. I can do most EU countries including Greece, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania."
Posted by iang at February 4, 2006 04:56 PM | TrackBack

It should be noted that the vast majority of forged or falsely applied for identity documents in Britain are *foreign* documents, which even a perfect British national ID Card scheme could do nothing to prevent.

See the Metropolitan Police's Operation Maxim:


"The majority of cases dealt with by Maxim involve identity document fraud of some description.

In 2004 the following seizures were made of documents that were either forged or obtained by obtained by fraud;

* 394 Passports
* 156 UK National Insurance Cards
* 46 UK Driving Licenses
* 19 Other UK based ID documents
* 8200 Non UK ID documents
* 30 Immigration stamps"

In other words, *over 93%* of the false or fraudulently obtained Identity Documents seized by Operation Maxim were foreign documents, over which the UK Government will not have control.

Posted by: Watching Them, Watching Us at February 18, 2006 08:39 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Hit preview to see your comment as it would be displayed.