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Home NATIONALRefugee influx widens use of forged papers
Mon, 04 Jan, 2016 12:04:30 AM
FTimes – STT Report, Jan 4
Asylum seekers arrive to refugee reception center in the northern town of Tornio, Finland on September 25, 2015. Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
The large number of asylum seekers has significantly increased the use of forged documents in the country, document expert Pekka Hiltunen of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District told the news agency STT.
The number of forged documents detected last year in the Gulf of Finland region has doubled compared to the previous year, said Hiltunen.
More than 600 forged documents were detected and there were around 300 cases of people caught with forged documents. 
The figures include the number of forged documents detected at the Helsinki Airport as well as the ports in Helsinki.
The number of people caught with forged documents has also doubled. About half of the cases of forged documents involved Iraqi documents.
“One case may involve a number of documents which are forged, such as passport, visa, residence permit or border crossing stamps,” said Hiltunen.
According to Hiltunen, most cases of forgeries involved documents and not passports which, for example, are used to indicate that a person was living in a certain area marred by conflict.
The increased number of cases of forgery is attributed to the growth of the number of asylum seekers. 
According to Hiltunen, the original documents may have been left at home on purpose or, for example, may have ended up in the hands of the extremist organisation Isis.
“When [one] gets to Finland, the documents are sent via postal mail here to try to prove [one’s] identity. If a town, village or municipality is under the control of Isis, you do not get the documents. Some may also try to hide their identity and use another identity,” Hiltunen added.
For example, many of the asylum seekers who arrive at Tornio do not have documents with them; however, the documents are sent to them later while in Finland.
Law enforcers check documents at Tornio reception centre. File Photo Lehtikuva.
According to Hiltunen, human traffickers may also confiscate the documents of the new arrivals or they may get lost on the European trek to Finland.
The Finnish security police (Supo) did not comment on how widespread the deliberate exchange of identity is. The news agency STT also did not get anyone from the National Bureau of Investigation to comment on the matter.
At the end of December, France urged the European Union to examine the passports of Syrian asylum seekers more extensively. According to France, Isis got hold of a lot of empty passport templates when it took control of old administrative buildings in the areas they occupied.
According to Hiltunen, only a few dozen forged Syrian passports have been found in Finland, which partly explains the low number of Syrian asylum seekers.
“Forged Syrian passports are not that many. Quite isolated cases have been detected,” said Hiltunen.
Police Superintendent Mia Poutanen from the National Police Board said the use of forged passport templates is typical to cases of passport hoax.
“Passport fraudsters have genuine passports which somebody else uses. Furthermore, there are stolen genuine passport templates in circulation used in forgeries or [one] may use a cleanly forged document. Documents belonging to each category are in circulation in Finland,” said Poutanen.
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