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Fighting document fraud

Fraud motivations are wide: To stay in a country illegally, to flee arrest, to steal someone’s identity for profit, to deceive someone for profit, etc. States and organisations that issue identity documents have always made use of security techniques to fight document fraud.

The identity document verification service provided by is an effective way of combating document fraud.
Document fraud has become the third-largest criminal industry in the world, costing the global economy billions of dollars every year.

What is document fraud?

In banking and public sector, document fraud is a very real risk. This type of fraud generally involves identity theft. Every day, many individuals fall victim to identity theft and report it to the police. These offences are punished severely by the law, but they are becoming increasingly frequent.

As well as being troublesome for individuals, these frauds cost businesses and governments thousands of euros every year. To avoid the risk of fraud, it is vital to make effective use of processes that offer greater security, such as automatic identity checks.

There are several types of document fraud.

Fraud prevention


This means reproducing an identity document in full.

It is usually fairly simple to detect, because the counterfeits are often of a poor quality and rarely contain all the security features present in authentic documents, but the technical skill of counterfeiters is rapidly improving and very well-produced forgeries are beginning to appear.



This means making changes to an existing document.

The changes can be simple (changing a date of birth or expiry date, for example) or more complex. Some fraudsters have even made a speciality of “scrubbing” a document i.e. producing a blank document from a personalised document. The original document may belong to the forger, or it may be a document stolen from or sold by its legitimate holder. Forgery is the reason behind significant trafficking in stolen identity documents.


Blank document theft

An identity document consists of a blank document that is personalised with holder’s personal details. When the job of personalisation is decentralised, blank identity documents are transported to town halls or local authority offices. Fraudsters intercept the transfert to steal blanks and personalise them, producing what is known as a “stolen blank”.

Identity documents are now mostly personalised at a secure central location to avoid this fraud, but exceptions still exist, including visas. These documents are personalised in embassies and consulates, meaning that stolen blank fraud is a significant concern for this type of document.

Vol De Document Vierge

Identity theft

Identity theft is impossible to detect just by verifying the identity document, because it is a real identity document being presented by someone who is not its legitimate holder. These cases can only be detected by cross-checking.

Usurpation D Identité

Pseudo documents

What we call a pseudo identity document is a document created from scratch by the counterfeiter without reference to an existing identity document template. It naturally has no value, but may sometimes be accepted as an authentic document by a non-expert. The best-known pseudo documents include the World Passport.

Fraudulent procurement

In this last case, detection is more complex, because it is a real document obtained fraudulently. An initial document fraud is used to produce false supporting documents that are then used to obtain a real document. This is sometimes referred to as a FOG (fraudulently obtained genuine) document. The identities it represents may be fabricated or stolen.

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