Franck D., 42, is a police captain at the Plaisir (Yvelines) police station. He leads the anti-fraud group and brings thirteen years of field experience to the table. We talked to him to learn, how Identity thiefs operate.
Do crooks who open accounts with fake IDs still wreak havoc in shopping malls?
They can be found in large food or household appliance stores where they shop. Then, they often sell their items to criminals for a third of the price. In most cases, only middlemen are arrested who, for a few hundred euros, stick their photos on documents and open accounts in banks. We see less of this than before in shopping malls. They prefer to operate on the Internet.
What about getting a loan using a fake id?
Indeed, some people buy cars by taking a loan out.. Others even collect the money from before transferring them to a series of accounts to launder it.
Shouldn’t banks be more cautious?
Banks do their job by opening accounts and, in addition, the law prohibits them from refusing customers. Bank directors are sensitized, because at the end of the day they are the ones who can lose money. But they are screwed when the fake documents are good.
How do criminals buy fake ids?
False identity documents are sold in bars in Seine-Saint-Denis in particular, and cost between 300 € and 1,500 € depending on the quality. But today, however, crooks mostly purchase identities on the Internet, it’s easier. They are available all over and you can easily get an identity document, to use, in conjunction with a bank statement when making a bogus reservation for a holiday apartment.
How do you stop them?
We have ongoing relationships with stores and banks to catch them in the act. To be successful, cashiers must be trained. French identity cards are harder to use because they are well-known. So, scammers use a lot of fake Portuguese identity cards or Italian residence cards, which are very difficult to detect.
What is the profile of the criminals you are arresting?
Most of them are known to the police. Scams are often their way of life, allowing them to earn 60,000 EUR in five months. While in police custody, we are dealing with pleasant people who explain that they have not hurt anyone and that the stolen money is covered by insurance.
How do you protect yourself from identity theft?
- Do not leave your belongings lying around on the beach or on the table of a restaurant or café. Do not forget any identity papers or means of payment (like a credit or debit card) in the car.
- Never have your checkbook sent to you by post. This payment voucher is regularly stolen from post offices or mailboxes.
- Do not send scans of your ID card or bank statement to unreliable websites.
How to Retaliate
- You are a victim of the theft of your cheque book or credit card: immediately cancel it and report the problem to your bank.
- Your documents are stolen: identity card, passport, driving license, etc. Report it to the prefecture and keep the statement: if you are negligent, you will not be able to justify yourself to creditors and the police could knock on your door, thinking you are a criminal.
- You receive a summons to pay from a bailiff or bank victim of fraud: file a complaint for identity theft and provide proof of your good faith to respond to banks and credit institutions.