back to article Home Office passport fraud sweep flops

The Home Office security upgrade scheme to catch passport fraudsters through face-to-face interviews has bagged just eight potential 'Jackals'. The project, requiring first-time passport applicants to attend interviews with officials from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), launched in 2007 and has resulted in no …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And this ignores the hidden cost of people needing to take time off from work in order to do the pointless interviews.

  2. Steve Medway

    3.75 million per person caught in the passport trap

    Wow 3.75 million per person caught trying to get an (allegedly) dodgy password + 0 convictions.....

    With a few more great ideas maybe we can hit the four million per person rating....

    Come to think of it we may have surpassed 4m pre person - how much it cost to give a few hundred people an ID card......


    1. Baskitcaise


      Come to think of it we may have surpassed 4m per person - how much it cost to give a few hundred people an ID card...... Now defunct.

      There fixed that for you, hope you do not mind.

  3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


    Cost/Benefit analysis. We've heard of it...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it turns out...

    ... that RFID, fingerprints, databases, perv scanners, even face-to-face interviews, have exactly zilch effect. Except for soaring costs. And incessant pork-barreling.

    So we had a pretty good system but just had to knee-jerk it into ever more expensive oblivion.

    So what else is new? The scale and the brashness, perhaps. Carry on government.

  5. kedwards

    Passport Interview Observations

    To be fair to the IPS, it could be that the interviews have been successful at preventing fraud by scaring off the fraudsters! Going to Elephant and Castle for the interview certainly scared me.

    The biggest problem I reckon is that the questions asked in the interview aren't imaginative enough (no surprise for a government department).

    For example, two items entered on the passport form are "Place of Birth" and "Father's Date of Birth".

    Rather than just ask for those again in the interview and check they match, if I was running it, I'd ask things like: "What sort of town were you born in? Near the coast? In the mountains? Small? Large?" and "When was your father's fiftieth birthday? What did you do to celebrate?".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'd likely not get a passport, no idea when my fathers birthday is let alone what year he was what age - the whole process is a waste of time and money.

      And the sort of town I was born in? Boring.

      I'd prefer a 1000 fraudulant passports issued then £90million pounds wasted up front and an extra £30 million pounds wasted each year after. Any important check (like is the person on a suspected terrorist watch list) can be done back office.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Going to Elephant and Castle for the interview certainly scared me.

      Yes, personally I find it's the proximity to Stockwell does it. 'Specially when I haven't shaved in a couple of weeks and have my rucksack. Scares the shit out of me!

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    How many prevented ?

    The interviews may have prevented 8 people getting a passport, but how many applicants were put off applying for a passport because of the interviews ?

    Not an easy question to answer, I agree, but one that needs to be considered before writing off the cost of the scheme.

    PS - I've yet to form an opinion as to whether this is a good or bad use of public money, just trying to make sure people consider all angles. Just like a reputable jounalist would do....

    PPS You also need to think about how many legitimate people were discouraged by the new rules too.

  7. Sureo


    its a good idea if properly conducted. There are all too many crooks and fraudsters around and it doesn't hurt to nab some of them. Nice to see they are at least trying.

  8. Kieran

    Waste of time

    I went through one of these a couple of years ago. The letter explains that they will ask you questions base on your application, as well as the contents of "public and private databases."

    As a result, I was intrigued to see what I'd be asked. I expected questions on fairly basic stuff - any criminal convictions, school/university attended, driving license status, employment history - that kind of thing. Not saying it's a good thing that that's all on file somewhere, but it sounded like what they'd be getting at.

    Instead, they asked virtually nothing that hadn't been on the application, or at the very least couldn't have been gleaned by a quick rummage through a dustbin. The point appears to be that the interview is to prove that you're the same person who made the application. If you made it with stolen or fraudulent data - then that's fine.

  9. 46Bit

    No, no, no

    What's actually happened, in Government-speak, is that their scheme has been so effectual in dissuading fraudsters from trying to get passports that only 8 people have tried it since the scheme's inception.

    (Yes, that's bull, but it's typically what they'd retort.)

  10. Graham Marsden

    Of course...

    ... the whole exercise was probably really just an excuse to start developing systems required for ID cards...

  11. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Expect them to say

    They didn't catch anyone because they scared off all the bad people before they even applied, they have not found anyone so it must be working...

    1. Daniel 1

      I suspect...

      ...that it was Questions 76 and 77 that scared them off:

      "Q76. Do you work for Mossad, Metsada, Kidon, or any other secretive Israeli special operations force?

      Q77. Do you intend to use your passport to carry out high level assassinations in the full glare of the world's media?"

      Really, they should have included a Q77b "do you have a really scary grin?", but I gather you're not actually allowed to smile in passport photos any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Simple postcode check security clearance

        I'm sure we all remember the questions on the security questionnaire (Page 4 IIRC)

        "Are you or have you ever been a member of an organisation which has sought to overthrow the legitimately elected government of the United Kingdom?"

        And again IIRC a little boot note saying "Answering yes doesn't immediately disqualify you from clearance but lying does"

        Of cours, having lived all over the world including the Middle East (and with relatives still there at the time), it took months before I could go to the bathroom unescorted. (And that was the "fast track") fortunately, it's a lot easier to get it renewed.

        1. asiaseen

          That presumably included

          the Conservative party until a few weeks ago. And the Labour party now

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Generous & unkind

    Being somewhat generous, you could summise that the fact this scheme is in place may have deterred people from attepmting the fraud in the first place.

    Being unkind, perhaps they are useless at spotting fraud.

    Yes, it is expensive and the increase from £28 to £71 is quite a jump. What I'm more concerned about is that with more than a 200% increase in cost it's still easy for Mossad to fake a passport.

    Perhaps this level of scrutiny should be levied on Visa applications... many of which are processed in-country by nationals of that country.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Ticking the squares again...

    Let's face it, the jobsworths are now in total control - and a change of government isn't going to do much about that.

    I was silly enough to let my passport expire during a long period of illness. To get a new one, I'm now going to have to make a 100-mile round trip into Edinburgh. Where presumably some jobsworth who's never seen me in his life will decide a retired chap with severe mobility problems isn't a threat to national security, even if he does have a past record of carrying WMD (aka nail scissors) through customs. As opposed to the old arrangement, where a doctor I'd known for 30 years was asked to vouch for me.

    I'm going to have to leave it a while as the cost of the trip, added to the cost of the passport, isn't a small slice out of a fixed income.

    But never mind - we'll be ticking all the right squares on the appropriate forms, and that's what counts.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the Mossad got to do with the price of fish?

    The intelligence agencies of the major countries have the capabilities to fake almost anything, the fact that The Mossad could fake up some passports well enough to fool a border guard in a non-english speaking country (hell, it's a non-roman alphabet using country) isn't that much of a worry. They also used German, French, Australian and Irish, and in the past have used Canadian. The only passports assured never to be copied by the Israelis are US ones, because they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Renewal - no inteview

      The directgov website states that "only adults who have never had a passport before need an interview"

      So you should be okay renewing an expired pssport.

      Also if you were born before 1929 you may not need an interview !

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Thanks for that - I hadn't read the website, and it's certainly not what the passport office told me. Though admittedly my main passport expired 2 decades ago, and my last one was one of those annual things they used to do.

        I wasn't born before 1929 - though I increasingly feel that way... ;o>

        But I'm moved to get back on it - many thanks.

  15. Guy Herbert

    @ 46Bit

    Er no, you've been sucked into the well of solipsism that is Home Office reasoning.

    They refused 8 people passports. In the world beyond Marsham Street that doesn't prove EITHER that those 8 were trying to deceive the bureaucrats (they just failed to staisfy them) OR that any people actually trying to do deceive the Home Office failed.

  16. Mark Eccleston

    Only £77.50!!! Great deal

    I had my passport renewed from Canada and it was $260 CAD or about £170.

  17. Owen Carter

    It's a business innit?

    If you are an expat in europe you'd love to just pay 77 quid.. Getting a UK passport issued abroad costs at least twice that. If you have queries that's a credit-card only premium line at 70p/min. The quality of service you get there is everythign you have come to expect from expensive premium services.

    Oh? you want to actually receive it? jeez you are such a looser.. Obviously you have to drive to their office in Paris or pay 30 euros for courier delivery.

  18. Paolo Marini

    let's see

    my view on this scheme: they had the "estimate" figure of 4,400 frauds to start with, so they set that number as a target but needed 500,000 interviews to come-up with that many possible cases (fail #1) then, following full investigations, they were only able to "catch" 8 fraudsters out of these 4,000 applicants (fail #2).

    so either their estimate is way off the scale and only a dozen false identities are used in new passports each year, or their officers are rubbish at questioning and couldn't limit themself to a dozen thousand interviews to get the job done.

    in any case, the cost of getting a passport has increased three-fold, and we all pay more taxes...

  19. Fraudster
    Big Brother

    Why surpised?

    Strange they actually got eight! No self respecting fraudster is going to submit to an interview when it only costs slightly more to buy a forged/fraudulent passport, nor sure why HMG thought this would work!. Its rather like asking a burglar to pop in to his local nick before he breaks into your house.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    If I do really well at the interview...

    could I have an Australian or Canadian passport instead, so I can get the hell out of this sh1tty country? No offence pal.

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