A gallery of the faces of 25 suspected identity thieves have been published in a bid to clamp down on the UK’s most common fraud.
Criminals provided the pictures when they tried to use other people’s personal details to apply for documents that would then get them fake passports and driving licences.
The practice is being carried out by criminal gangs who then use the documents to carry out offences from people trafficking to drug smuggling.
According to Crimestoppers, figures from fraud prevention service CIFAS showed that identity theft accounted for around half of all fraud recorded in the UK last year.
The charity has worked with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to make the gallery public. Nigel Kirby from SOCA said: “Be in no doubt, these fraudulently obtained identity documents are being used by criminals for criminal purposes. Organised crime groups are known to use them to further drugs and firearms trafficking, illegal immigration and fraud - which in turn causes harm to individuals and communities across the UK.
”Passports and driving licences do not just allow you to travel and drive, they are important identity documents that can be used to support applications for mortgages, bank loan or benefits. This is the first phase of this campaign and it is important that these criminals are tracked down and brought before the courts.“
Crimestoppers Director of Operations, Roger Critchell, said; ”Crimestoppers needs help from the public to locate these criminals as soon as possible. Please visit our social media pages and share these faces with your friends and family and help reduce the likelihood of further innocent people becoming victim to having their identity stolen by fraudsters.
“We need to protect ourselves from such criminals particularly now with data driven identity crimes now making up the vast majority of all fraud in the UK.”
Crimestoppers chair and founder Lord Ashcroft added: “These individuals are not who they say they are and the details you believe you know about them are likely to be false but still help in finding their location. Any information that you pass on however can play a vital part in them being located and facing justice.”
The charity is encouraging people to share the photos online through Facebook and Twitter, and said that anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via an online form.