A rising trend in rogue businesses buying specialist printing equipment to produce counterfeit items such as identity cards, credit cards, passports or driving licenses was identified by police and industry representatives. This has led to a four-week consultation between government and experts to gather evidence on the proposed new legislation.
Identify crime is estimated to cost the UK economy £2.7 billion a year and the latest figures from the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service found the crime in the UK rose by 5% last year compared to the previous 12 months – with identity-related crime accounting for two-thirds of all fraud in 2012.
The new laws, which could come into force later this year if the proposals are deemed successful, would make it a criminal offence for businesses to supply fraudsters with intent or without carrying out sufficient checks. Failure to comply could carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Currently, the industry adheres to a voluntary code of conduct produced by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and printing industry representatives through Project Genesius. This includes proper record keeping, profiling each customer, identifying doubts and reporting suspicious orders to MPS – however further action was identified as necessary to tackle rogue elements.
ID card specialists Payne Security Card Solutions, which includes the recently-acquired distribution business Securit, were amongst the founding members of Project Genesius and Simon Jones, General Manager, said his team receive “a number” of requests from suspicious parties on a regular basis. His sales team are kept up to date by Genesius, so know exactly what to look out for.
Speaking about the new legislation, he added: “We fully welcome this because this type of fraud can result in the ability to produce fake ID cards which can be used fraudulently to fund many illegal activities, including terrorism.
“They are also likely to be purchasing the product with a compromised card that could result in payment being withdrawn by the bank, which of course adversely affects our profitability.
“We fully endorse this change in the law and will continue to fully support Genesius, in my opinion it should be supported throughout the industry.”
Detective Superintendent Nick Downing, from the MPS’s Specialist and Economic Crime Command, admitted that rogue companies are still buying specialist equipment despite the success of the current partnership – which has seen 880 referrals and 19 prosecutions since 2007.
He stated: “This cannot continue. This proposed legislation will prevent the sale of such equipment to criminal groups and give the police the power to take action against those who disregard it.”
The handling of confidential or personal information by businesses has become increasingly under scrutiny in recent years, as data stolen from companies can also be used to also set up credit cards or bank accounts by fraudsters using a business’ or clients’ details.
Anthony Pearlgood, Chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s Information Destruction Section, welcomed the new crackdown on the supply of equipment which “enables the falsification of identity documentation”.
“The cost to companies affected by data theft can also be considerable,” he added. “Aside from the time and stress caused in resolving fraud problems, there are also financial penalties potentially including compensation to customers, extensive marketing costs to restore reputation, and fines.
“There is no room for complacency when dealing with fraudsters and organisations must act now to ensure that they protect their information and it does not fall into the hands of the fraudsters. “