Large criminal networks involved in production and distribution of forged identity documents we busted in Greece, Bulgaria And Philippines, their operators arrested. Workshops and production facilities were raided in Athens, Sofia and Manila.
The coordinated strike resulted from joint operation between European and International police forces. It came after several month of surveillance were conducted on suspecting premises by anti-cybercrime operatives, who were tipped off by concerned citizens about possible unlawful activity at certain local addresses. In addition, vehicles and residences has been searched.
High quality fake identification documents like passports, driving licenses and plastic ID cards were confiscated, along with printing and editing equipment. These fake IDs were used as travel documents for Eastern European nationals or as a means to commit crime and fraud. They are also popular among terrorists and con artists of all kinds. The price of counterfeit documents on the black market varied depending on the quality of end product, in the range of 500-1000 USD. They were sold both online and offline.
A number of gang members of different nationalities were detained. Now they are facing charges for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which penalizes "computer-related forgery and computer-related fraud" but a bailable offense.
The investigation is currently ongoing, with police trying to determine the role of each suspect in the criminal operation. Some were involved in digital altercation of identify documents, while others were responsible for distribution and client work. It is unclear yet if the mastermind of the gang is among the detainees or if he managed to escape.
Greece and Bulgaria had been considered as hotbeds of counterfeit documents production and distributions. Even though the police sting operation had been carried on a large scale, the operatives in charge believe they had only scratched the surface and many more document forgery points are still around, with business as usual. Further efforts are needed to disrupt the organized fake ID crime, but current operation is seen as a first successful step.