A young man was arrested this week in Australia for using a fake passport to withdraw $300,000 from various Sydney banks in one day. His use of an altered passport to steal the money demonstrates the power of an identity document in the hands of criminals.
Ronald K. Noble, founder of RKN Global, has repeatedly cited the words of the U.S. 9/11 Commission’s report: “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.” This is true of organized crime just as it is true of terrorists.
This week’s arrest in Australia is illustrative. Police began suspecting that the man did not work alone, but was part of a criminal syndicate, when they discovered, in November 2015, that altered Australian and Indonesian identity documents were used to infiltrate bank accounts. They have released CCTV images of persons of interest whom they feel could be helpful in resolving the case.
Terrorists and criminals need to be able to access and store (and launder) funds, to travel, and to live in the countries that they target and operate in. An expertly altered stolen passport that can fool bank, airline and hotel employees into providing them with the resources that they need.
The arrest having just been made, the details of this particular scheme are still unclear: Was its goal simply a large heist, a method of garnering funds for other criminal, or terrorist, activities, or some other purpose?
RKN Global’s founder Ronald K. Noble notes that the presence of CCTV images of other persons of interest raises the important issue of the role of facial recognition technology in law enforcement.
If a sophisticated system of facial recognition technology were in place, as well as a systematic way of taking the images and verifying identity details of anyone entering the country, it seems that authorities would have a much easier job ahead of them in identifying the persons of interest in this—and other—investigations. The very clear CCTV images taken of the persons of interest could easily be matched to their faces if such technology were matched with a systematic identification platform for the country.
This is in addition to essential and all-too-uncommon products like RKN Global’s RKN Pass, which can identify stolen, lost or fake passports at banks, airports, hotels and other venues.
RKN Global is dedicated to providing such solutions for countries such as Australia looking to sharpen the tools at their disposal to identify and catch criminal and terrorist suspects.