Passport fraud and forgery in history
Passport fraud and forgery have been ongoing problems throughout history, as people have sought to evade border controls, gain access to restricted areas, or obtain travel documents under false pretenses. Here are a few notable instances of passport fraud or forgery and how countries have responded. Passport fraud forgery history
Early passport fraud
occurred in the late 18th century, during the French Revolution. As many French aristocrats fled the country to escape persecution, they often needed passports to travel through neighboring countries. Some of these aristocrats, however, resorted to buying fake passports from forgers.
British Passports Passport fraud forgery history
Another example of early passport fraud involved British passports in the early 19th century. At the time, British passports were relatively easy to obtain, as they were often issued by local magistrates or other officials without much scrutiny. This led to widespread fraud and forgery, as people were able to obtain passports under false pretenses. To combat this problem, the British government eventually centralized the passport issuing process and introduced more rigorous identity verification procedures.
The “Passport King” Frank Abagnale: In the 1960s, Frank Abagnale, Jr. became notorious for his ability to forge passports and other documents. He posed as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, among other professions, and used fake identities to travel around the world. Eventually, he was caught and served time in prison, but his exploits inspired the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”
The “Canadian Caper” in Iran: During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, a group of American diplomats escaped from the U.S. embassy in Tehran and went into hiding. They were eventually smuggled out of Iran using fake Canadian passports, which were obtained with the help of the Canadian government. The incident became known as the “Canadian Caper” and was the basis for the movie “Argo.” Passport fraud forgery history
The “Schindler List” in World War II: During World War II, Oskar Schindler used his position as a factory owner in Nazi-occupied Poland to save the lives of over 1,000 Jewish workers. He obtained fake identity papers and passports for his workers, many of whom were able to escape to safety as a result.
Samson Cioma Schoenhaus – “The passport forger”: He managed to make contact to opponents of the regime, first forging identity papers for a circle of Protestants from the Berlin-Dahlem Confessional Church, who supported victims of persecution. His drawing skills enabled him to produce very convincing forgeries. The adjusted documents helped other victims of persecution to survive while in hiding. In September 1942 Cioma Schönhaus went into hiding himself under a false identity. His workshop was a shop in Berlin-Moabit rented by third parties, shared with the Jewish printer Ludwig Lichtwitz and the Jewish electrician Werner Scharff, who were also living “illegally.” His fellow activists were denounced and arrested in the summer of 1943. Cioma Schönhaus fled Berlin at the end of September 1943 with a forged military ID and vacation certificate. Passport fraud/forging especially during WWII and the Holocaust was a live-saving matter.
The Green River Killer case: In the 1980s and 1990s, Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, murdered dozens of women in the Seattle area. He was eventually caught in 2001, in part because he had used a fake name and passport to flee to Mexico after one of his crimes. Passport fraud forgery history