Sharp increase in forged documents submitted by asylum seekers
In just a year, the number of forged documents that asylum seekers present during their applications shot up from 173 to 320. The 2021 annual figures show most asylum seekers using these documents were from Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Afghanistan, according to De Telegraaf.
This fraud usually comes in the form of fake entry stamps or false dates of birth on passports, the newspaper reports. For instance, asylum seekers might pretend, with the help of fake entry stamps, that they left the European Union so they can submit a new application. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee registered 2,321 fraud cases in 2021 and found 4,313 documents in these cases.
"The absolute hotspots remain the airports," Marechaussee spokesperson Mike Hofman told De Telegraaf. "But we are also busier with fraudsters along the national borders with Germany and Belgium.”
This type of document fraud has been on the rise since 2015, when Europe saw a record number of asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other countries. In Schiphol, the Marechaussee even has a room where false documents are stored. Some of the passports are from countries that no longer exist, while others don't name any country at all.
People acquire false papers through apps like Telegram, an ECID employee explained to De Telegraaf. “You are looking for someone who is about your height and age and who looks a bit like you. Furthermore, a lot can be tinkered with, so that you can continue as a look-a-like. For things like that, transit countries like Greece and Turkey have complete 'travel agencies' that style migrants after the stolen identity, complete with makeup and hairdresser.”
The Marechaussee also checks to make sure vacationers have enough money for staying in the Netherlands. They say this helps prevent human trafficking, which in many cases involves a young woman coming from another country to work in prostitution.