How do you spot an imposter with a fake passport?

Unbelievably, a quick Google for fake passports, shows just how common the problem is: the first two, most commonly selected terms are “fake passport generator” and “fake passport maker”. Here’s how to spot them.

In January this year, the Chronicle Live reported scams based on necessary Brexit passport renewals. A phishing email is made to appear as if it comes from a legitimate source, say, which leads the reader to a webpage where they enter all their details, so the fraudster can use them to generate fake travel documents.

Then later, in June this year, the Daily Mail reported stolen and fake passports being sold on FaceBook for “as little as £800”.

One fake passport every two days

At Keysafe, we uncover an average of one fake passport every other day, potentially saving the landlord from trouble – and the letting agent from a disgruntled client – further down the line.

Forgeries come from all locations, and every part of the market; it’s by no means just urban areas. The most exclusive properties are just as likely to attract problems as small, inexpensive properties.

No landlord or letting agent is immune, and (even though you might convey this impression to the applicant) the process should never be treated as a simple formality.

Worryingly, we’ve been sent several fake passports that had previously been accepted as genuine by other referencing companies.

In each case, the letting agent themselves had been trained in the fundamentals of spotting a forgery and taken it upon themselves to send us the document for a second opinion.

It shows the value of equipping agents to act as a first line of defence, which is why we’re investing so much time and effort in working with our colleagues at Passport Proven to provide training to hundreds of ARLA members. Get in contact at for their free guide on how to check a passport.

How to spot an imposter

Impersonation is the simplest and fastest growing type of passport fraud: someone who looks like the real owner using a passport or identity document. To make sure your prospective tenant isn’t an imposter, follow these steps:

  1. Carefully compare the photograph(s) /image with the presenter.
  2. Can they speak the language of the country of the passport?
  3. Check the age with the date of birth in the document is it consistent with the applicant?
  4. Check for visible marks, scars, tattoos, or skin deformities.
  5. Check the chin, lips, ears, eyes and nose for shape and their relative position to each other and the face as a whole.
  6. Obtain a ‘check’ signature for comparison with the signatures in the documents.
  7. If you are suspicious then ask questions of the applicant to test their knowledge. For example:
    – Where were they born, when were they born, what district, what hospital, what star sign are they?
    – Are their answers consistent with what you know?
    – Did they answer automatically, or did they hesitate before responding?
  8. Ask questions regarding any travelling they have done and check for stamps in their passport (this can only be done for travel outside of the EEA).
  9. Observe the applicant, is he or she nervous, fidgeting, sweating, is there a lack of eye contact (be aware that some cultures do not make consistent eye contact)?
You’re the first port of call, but, if you miss it, we won’t.

For more information get in touch at

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