With the news media largely dominated by a recent assassination in my old stomping grounds of Dubai, there has been much talk of the use of fake passports.
Politicians have been outraged at the insult to the British Passport and muttering dire warnings about the sanctity of the passport system itself being imperilled.Â Last night, Channel 4 News had a dark shadowy figure explain how easy it is for spooks to fake or clone passports. This being top secret information, the speaker was hidden from view and only identified by his first name.
All very serious stuff.
Some years ago I needed to get a new passport as my old one had expired and at the time I was rather too poor to afford to renew it (let alone have a reason to use it) and that experience of stupid bureaucracy educated me as to how incredibly simple it is to get a fake passport in the UK.
It turned out that my Birth Certificate was a photocopy (from the days when photocopies were done on decent paper) and I needed an original. Also, where my Managing Director had signed the declaration of worthiness, it turned out that as I had filled in the form and he had signed it was a very naughty thing indeed. My remonstrations that Managing Directors are too busy to fill in forms, they just sign forms other people fill in fell on deaf ears.
It took three visits to get the application approved, largely because in my naivety, I thought that level of narrow minded pettiness over frankly, insignificant issues was something that had died out in the 1970s. A year later I needed a special visa from the US Embassy, and ran into the same level of mindless bureaucracy again – what is it with civil servants and petty paper pushing?
Bear in mind that some of the procedures may have changed in the subsequent few years – but when people tell you that the passport is the highest form of identity that exists, remember how easy it is to get one in someone else’s name.
How to Get a Fake Passport
1) Move into a new property or bedsit/squat.
2) Visit your local Family Records Centre and look up the name of a person who was born around the same time that you were. Order a copy of their Birth Certificate. The key point here – no proof of identity was required and you could pay cash over the counter. No “audit trail” exists and you can collect the certificate by hand the following day.
3) Now you have a name to clone, contact a suitable utilities provider (gas, electricity etc) and inform them you have just moved into your home and can you have an account opened up.
4) Twiddle fingers for a while and wait until the first utility bill arrives. You now have the two forms of ID required – a Birth Certificate and a Proof of Address.
5) Get a passport application form and ask a fellow conspirator to declare that they are doctor or solicitor and that they think you are a terrible nice chap. At most, the only check made against them is a phone call to check they did fill in the form.
6) A couple of weeks later – and a passport arrives in the post.
7) Move out of property and vanish along with your new fake identity.