Moneymaking Scam Leads to Identity Theft

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Copies of ID cards are now required in many shops on the Internet, for example to find accommodation, register with a car-sharing provider, open an account with an online bank or conclude a mobile phone contract. The copy must be sent, uploaded to a website or transmitted via video identification.

Criminals are interested!

Criminals are also interested in this data. They use it to open bank accounts, take out loans, buy money or launder money. Anyone who has their identity stolen must laboriously prove in court proceedings that they have not carried out the transactions on their own behalf. Thorsten Behrens, project manager of Watchlist Internet, stated:

picture of thorsten behrens


“Since the beginning of the year we have received an increasing number of complaints of this kind and we expect the number of fraud cases to continue to rise. It is becoming increasingly difficult for users to identify dubious vendors as fraudulent websites become more professional and look deceptively real.”


How does the scam work?

Recent cases include ““, “” and ““: According to Watchlist Internet, these sites are market research institutes where consumers can earn up to 100 euros per completed survey. When registering, interested parties also had to upload their ID documents such as identity cards or passports. As part of the first supposed survey, they were asked to open an account with an online bank and go through a video identification process. However, the bank itself knew nothing about this and criminals stole the participants’ data. The perpetrators also proceed in a similar way with job advertisements, apartment hunting, shopping on classified ad platforms or with fake PayPal messages.

Tips for consumers

  • Mark the copy of the ID card as such when sending or uploading: If a copy of an ID card, salary slip or other personal document has to be sent to confirm identity, the word “copy” should be written across the document in question. Users can do this manually (after which the copy must be scanned or photographed) or with the help of an image processing program. This shows that it is not the original.
  • Indicate the purpose of use: In order to be on the safe side, it is advisable to note the purpose of use and the date (e.g. “Copy of identity card exclusively for registration with model bank, 12.02.2019“.). This means that the copy of the identity document can only be used for this specific purpose – and for no other business.
  • Black out information that is not used: Information on the copy of the identity document that is not used should be blacked out and made illegible. Frequently, the ID number or signature is not required.


“The more personal data is requested, the more skeptical consumers should be. We do not recommend uploading or sending copies of ID cards on the Internet, not even to companies. If this is necessary, it should be researched beforehand whether it is a reputable provider,” Behrens recommended.

Otherwise, criminals might use even use your ID information to create convincingly looking fake ids to be sold on Darknet marketplaces. Often, these Ids are only bought and used to purchase alcohol by minors.

But why take the risk? Safeguard your personal information!