In the past several years, we’ve seen all sorts of counterfeit financial instruments (money orders, cashiers checks and now American Express gift cheques) being passed in Internet scams.

A recent TimesOnline story stated “that Nigerians are forging passports and cheques on an industrial scale and that huge numbers of false documents are passing through provincial British airports.”

The face value of the fraudulent financial instruments discovered in “routine checks” amounted to millions of dollars, and the documents (non-financial) are probably used in “illegal immigration.”

Story, here.

It seems that advance fee (419) come-ons (mostly spam e-mails) seem to list “contact information” in the UK, or Netherlands.

Furthermore, the TimesOnline article mentions that the UK is a staging ground for a lot of the stolen merchandise (normally acquired via auction scams). IT also mentions that a lot of the “fraudulently obtained merchandise” comes from the United States — and while this is probably where most of it comes from — I would imagine it’s coming from other countries, also.

What alarmed me the most in the article was:

Suspected Nigerian fraudsters, who have been deported in exchange for charges against them being dropped, are re-entering Britain using forged travel documents and resuming their activities, according to the study.

Other suspects are absconding and disappearing because, unless they are accused of crimes involving more than £50,000, they are being released on bail.

I wonder how many of them get bailed out on a stolen identity, assume another one, and go right back into business?

After all – we seem to see story after story about what a huge problem this is becoming, and one of the main reasons for this, is that it’s too easy to do and if anyone is caught; not very much happens to them.

The article blames the current focus on terrorism and violent crimes for the lack of enforcement. I sometimes wonder if some of this activity doesn’t help finance “terrorism,” and if and when we are going to discover terrorists using “forged immigration documents,” again?

The easy availability of “forged documents” is taking away our ability to identify, who is friend, or foe.

It’s true that the article is about activity in the United Kingdom, but the problem isn’t contained to the British Isles.

And Nigeria isn’t the only place counterfeit financial instruments are being made. The NY Times reported that “high quality” U.S. Postal Money Orders are also made in Ghana and Eastern Europe, here.

Asia has also been a reported “source” for a lot of counterfeiting. For instance, it’s widely believed that North Korea has been flooding the world with “supernotes” (counterfeit $100 bills) that are almost impossible to tell from the real thing. Wikipedia article, here.

If you read through the article, it tells of ties to terrorist organizations and organized crime syndicates.

In reality, counterfeiting is done by a lot of different groups, who seem (more and more) to be working with each other in an organized manner.

There might be considerable evidence that Nigeria is counterfeiting a lot of documents, but they certainly aren’t the only source.

Swapmeetdave.com has an interesting page has an interesting page (with pictures) of a lot of the counterfeit items (from Nigeria), here.

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