FALSE IDENTITY DOCUMENTS
Camouflage and Fantasy Passports
This notice is issued by the Financial Supervision Commission in accordance with the powers conferred upon it under Section 22 of the Financial Supervision Act 1984.
An important aspect of the international efforts to combat financial crime such as money laundering is the "Know Your Customer" principle. In many circumstances this places an obligation on financial institutions to obtain and verify the identity of prospective customers, and it is a common measure to obtain a copy of the applicant's passport. Customers may attempt to use camouflage and fantasy passports to circumvent the "Know Your Customer" procedures concerning evidence of identity.
Such passports may increase the risk to institutions of being unwittingly used for money laundering, but may also expose them to increased settlement, credit or lending risk.
Institutions should treat with extreme suspicion any customer attempting to use a camouflage or fantasy passport as evidence of identity.
For the purposes of criminal activity or other dubious activity, some applicants may wish to conceal their true identity and background. The Commission is aware that certain companies offer over the Internet or through mail order what are known as "Camouflage Passports." These are often supplied as part of a package which may also include a driving licence, membership cards of societies or professional associations, or identity cards for national schemes such as health services, all of which are bogus.
Camouflage passports, although generally marketed as novelty items, are generally professionally produced using sophisticated printing and laminating techniques, bearing photographs, registration numbers and even entry and exit stamps of other countries. Therefore, in terms of quality, there is often no reason to believe that the passport is not genuine.
The aim of camouflage passports is to provide a seemingly genuine document from a seemingly genuine country. However, the "country" supposedly issuing the passport does not exist or does not issue passports, although to the casual observer they may seem plausible, and in many cases will sound familiar:
Soviet Union passports
There is widespread abuse of Soviet Union (USSR) passports. Although the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a political entity some years ago, the authorities in the Russian Republic are still issuing Soviet Union passports, and have stated that they will continue to do so until remaining stocks are exhausted. It is not known when this is expected to happen. However, the only type still being issued are ordinary passports, and any official or diplomatic passports purporting to be issued after October 1996 should be treated with suspicion and caution.
Additional difficulties surrounding Soviet Union passports are that it is believed (although not confirmed) that as many as 130,000 passports were misappropriated, with the inevitable conclusion that some may have fallen into criminal hands, and despite there being genuine Soviet Union passports, camouflage Soviet Union passports can also be bought.
Given the growing influence of organised crime within the former Soviet Union, and the level of uncertainty surrounding passports, it is recommended that extra care is taken regarding customers using Soviet Union passports as evidence of identity.
Spurious (or Fantasy) Passports
Spurious passports have the appearance of a passport, but are issued by organisations with no authority and to which no official recognition has been given. Such passports are therefore not an acceptable statement of either nationality or identity. Spurious passports and other documentation known to the authorities are:
Financial institutions or other businesses which place regular reliance on passports as evidence of identity should take all steps to ensure that they obtain copies of more than just the page bearing the applicant's photograph, e.g. also the front cover and inside page, so that there is proof of the country that has issued the passport.
In the event of any suspicion about the validity of a passport being used as evidence of identity, or in the event of any queries about this Public Warning, please contact:
For further information, please contact: