The Sumsuber

Best practices for KYC/AML

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The Top 10 Most Forged ID Documents (2021)

Over the past year, Sumsub has analyzed half a million fraud attempts and narrowed down the 10 most commonly-forged documents. These include Nigerian ID cards, Bangladeshi driver’s licenses, and Spanish passports.

The highlights

  1. What are the 10 most forged documents?
  2. Why do fraudsters fake certain documents
  3. How to protect against forgeries

What are the 10 most forged documents

Based on our data, half of forged documents come from Africa, with Nigeria at the top of the list. Two asian countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, come right behind Nigeria.

The ten most forged identity documents (2021)
Nigerian driver’s licenseBangladeshi ID cardNigerian ID cardMyanmar driver’s licenseSpanish passportCameroonian driver’s licenseUgandan ID cardTanzanian ID cardBangladeshi driver’s licenseMadagascar ID card

We recommend adding these potentially risky locations and document types to your list of red flags and paying extra attention to documents from these jurisdictions.

Why do fraudsters fake certain documents

Fraudsters fake documents from certain countries depending on existing loopholes, document security levels, and how often fraud occurs in a given jurisdiction.

Low document security. According to our report, half of the most forged documents were national ID cards. In some countries, these documents have fewer security features—watermarks, holograms, stamps—than documents intended for international travel, which makes them easier to forge.

For instance, India’s electronic ID card, the Aadhaar, can simply be printed out on paper. The document has almost no security features, except for a QR code. But, if a business’ verification system can’t read QR codes, it can easily miss a forged document.

Legal loopholes. Laws in some countries contain loopholes that allow criminals to forge documents without facing legal consequences. For instance, Article 327 of the Russian Criminal Code states that forgery or manufacture of any official document for the purpose of its use or sale is illegal. However, according to one of our in-house experts, there’s a loophole: if it can’t be proven that the forger planned to use or sell the fake documents, they cannot be prosecuted. Criminals use this loophole to falsify documents with impunity, and firms that forge documents operate in broad daylight.

Low privacy-awareness among citizens. Sensitivity around personal data privacy varies around the globe. In Europe, there’s a strict data protection regulation called the GDPR, and 67% of the EU citizens are aware of it.

But the situation drastically changes in other parts of the word. Only half of the 54 countries in Africa have introduced data protection laws, leaving countless Africans helpless in the event of a data breach. In the absence of proper personal data protection rules, citizens are at greater risk of leaking their personal information onto suspicious websites that sell data on the darkweb.

Citizens not following the law. We don’t see many fraud attempts originating in countries where citizens tend to follow laws. According to the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020, the most law-abiding countries include Denmark, Norway, and Finland. On the other hand, Venezuela, Cambodia, and Cameroon are at the bottom of the Index, and we do experience much more fraud from these jurisdictions.

How to protect against forgeries

It’s critical to introduce a reliable document screening system that checks document security features and detects signs of graphic editing. Since some national documents have few security features and other weaknesses, businesses should add additional layers of protection:

Behavioral risk score uses device fingerprint analysis to track suspicious IP addresses and email domains, usage of VPN, and location mismatches.

Duplicate and blocklist search detects applicants that try to reuse data belonging to existing users. This stops fraudsters in their tracks by checking them against databases of banned persons.

Facial biometrics analyzes the facial features of an applicant to ensure that the true holder of the documents undergoes verification.

Download Sumsub’s fraud study (2021) to get insights into existing and emerging fraud techniques.