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Organized cybercriminals use web services to create false scanned documents

Less than $10 can purchase a scan of a false passport, driver’s license, or credit card with online delivery within seconds.

Cyber criminals take false identities to a new level through do-it-yourself websites selling scans of fake passports, ID cards, utility bills, and credit cards issued by a large number of countries and banks. To make the end product seem more genuine the templates show signs of use, and they are scanned at different angles and positions. The counterfeit scanned documents are delivered as JPG or PNG in about 40 seconds, and the false identities come from a pseudo-randomized database accompanying randomized photos to avoid detection by fraud controls and law enforcement.

These websites were first identified last year, and they produce high-quality results. US passports are the most expensive, costing around $11. Other scanned documents range from $8 to $10 and cyber criminals can pay using a number of online payment services and difficult-to-trace virtual currencies. When it comes to credit cards, the list of scans include major players such as Capital One, Citibank, and Wells Fargo.

Fraudsters have known how to use Photoshop for many years, but using a service like this, a criminal without photo editing skills can get a counterfeit scanned document in a few seconds. Forward to whatever institution requests the copy, and voilà, the false identity becomes real. Mass-produced copies good enough to be indiscernible from the real thing to the human eye emphasizes the need for reliable identity document verification systems that are designed to spot forgeries and inconsistencies that homegrown manual document verification processes typically can’t spot.

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