Stolen passports becoming hot black market item

It is not uncommon for countless of lost or stolen citizenship cards and passports to find their way onto the black market. The various identification pieces can be sold for very high prices and used to commit identity theft.

Canadian passports are hot sellers on the black market since Canada benefits from visa-free access to several countries. This means that Canadian citizens can by-pass the visa requirements upon entering specific countries, making Canadian ID pieces more valuable and sought after.

In fact, back in 2003 four men were arrested in New York on charges that they were selling fake Canadian passports to Pakistanis who were living illegally in the States.

Three months ago, police from 42 Division responded to a breaking-and-entering at a house on Upper Rouge Trail in Scarborough. Items that were stolen were two citizenship cards, a safe containing a quantity of jewelry, and a passport.

Numerous residents in the predominantly South Asian neighbourhood were surprised at the news, as they described having a close-knit community and being close to their neighbours.

Back in 2005, CTV reported that Toronto Police had dismantled an operation trafficking fake ID pieces, such as passports and citizenship cards. Most of the pieces of ID belonged to people from the South Asian community, mostly from Sri Lanka.

The fraudsters were able to create fake ID pieces that resembled the ones they stole – so much so that is was difficult to tell the fake ones apart from the real ones.

In 2003, CBC reported that a Canadian passport could sell for up to $1,000 on the black market. However, many postings on the Internet claim that the price can actually go as high as $ 10,000.

The Internet, being the unregulated venue that it is, is tantamount to a new and ‘virtual black market’ that enables people to exchange information on how and where they can acquire fake passports. Some even openly advertise the sale of the highly sensitive documents, offering a variety of options in terms of nationalities. A few daring ones have even provided their email addresses on forums, asking that those interested in purchasing passports may contact them to discuss the matter privately.

While being prudent is a sound piece of advice to guard against the theft of a passport, it may not always be enough.

”Once [a passport] has been reported lost or stolen, it is no longer valid and is not to be used for any travel,” a posting on Passport Canada’s website states. “This is to ensure that it is not used for fraudulent purposes.”

Therefore, in the case that you do lose your passport or have it stolen, you should notify the police and Passport Canada immediately. The agency states that delays are to be expected when getting the replacement identification piece, since Canadian authorities need to conduct an investigation into the situation surrounding the loss or theft of the passport.

To report a lost or stolen passport, you can call Passport Canada toll-free at 1-800-567-6868, or visit their website at