To get a fake Syrian passport isn’t all that difficult in Istanbul, Turkey – a place where there are many Syrian and Iraqi refugees. There are forums on Facebook and Twitter full of posts and ads offering refugees of any nationality a fake passport, birth certificate, international driving license, even a college degree.
Al Jazeera noticed one such post, connected to a contact via WhatsApp. It reads:
“To all the Syrian brothers who are now in Istanbul. To whom it may concern and wants these documents and travel arrangements. Syrian and European passports. Legal and illegal travel, Syrian and international driving license. Ninth grade, high school, bachelors, and Masters Degrees. Family documents and birth certificates. All other needed documents. You can reach us on the whatsapp number *****”
Documents can be shipped via a well-known courier firm. No deposits or signed papers are required. All that’s needed is a name, date, place of birth and a photo and a forged passport will be offered at around $800 within a short space of time.
An undercover reporter from the British newspaper, the Telegraph, called a number on a Facebook group and arranged for passage from Turkey to Greece for around $3,000 ad a fake Syrian passport included.
Foreign criminal gangs operating in Greece, offer free passports and plane tickets within a matter of hours, found the BBC in its recent report. Alternatively, you can get a fake ID card for just $200:
Afghan migrants are even buying up fake ‘Taliban death threats’ in a bid to convince European authorities that they are political refugees. In the past, the Taliban would threaten their adversaries, a practice that they say they have since stopped. Now, Afghans are buying these letters – written on the stationary of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – to start a new life for up to $1,000.
Another page offers telephone numbers of coast guards in Greece, Italy, Malta and Turkey as well as tips for refugees, even ones such as ‘How to find a wife in Sweden’.
Some posts don’t even hide their intent. There’s one post that offers fake documentation that includes university papers (Bachelor’s degree for 93 euros) and passports ($1,500) for Syrian and non-Syrian citizens alike.
The documents have official stamps of authenticity, though it stresses that none of the documents are archived in official records. The bottom of the post calls on users to refrain from showing the documents to any Syrian embassy… We won’t!
BBC reporter Shahida Tulaganova took to the fake market to see how easy it would be to obtain a fake passport. In five months she managed to get 20 fake EU passports, some of which were of the very best quality and unlikely to be spotted as fakes even by the most stringent border controls. An excerpts from BBC’s “My Fake Passports and Me”: