More than a million fake identity documents were seized and 62 people arrested by Chinese police after an investigation into a counterfeit gang operating across 20 provinces.
The fake papers included all kinds of certificates, from residents’ identity cards through to birth certificates, passports, English test certifications and driving licences.
Authorities were alerted to the network when a man in the southeastern province of Anhui was caught using a fake ID card at an English test in March.
A police investigation found he had bought the card through WeChat, the smartphone-based social media tool, and identified the seller as a man surnamed Liu, living in Loudi, Hunan province, in central China.
A raid on Liu’s home in August uncovered mountains of half-finished fake credentials, carefully sorted into piles according to province, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
“The fake certificates we seized were of various kinds,” Xiao Weihui, a Loudi officer, was quoted as saying.
“Many of them included old and new versions, as well as different versions issued by authorities in different regions.
“Liu had sorted these papers according to provinces so that he could find [what he was looking for] easily.”
In response to the size of the haul the Ministry of Public Security issued direct instructions for an investigation which involved 330 officers from Loudi.
What they uncovered was a production and sales chain that included Zhejiang province in eastern China, Shanghai, and Guangdong in the south.
Police said the gang had bought raw materials from wholesale markets in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, and operated dozens of manufacturing workshops in Loudi, turning out bootlegged certificates for just a few yuan apiece which were then sold for hundreds of yuan.
The finished products were then couriered across the country to their customers.
If the gang lacked the raw material to produce a certain certificate, they could work off a sample provided by the customer.
“Their fake credentials looked so authentic. Ordinary people could not tell whether [the document] was real or not if they were only judging by their eyes,” Xiao said.
Fake I Parent Blush Church Event d Oakbrook student — The gang posted advertisements for their work on city walls and even hacked government and company websites to insert their ads.
Police said the gang had also sold fake credentials to training institutions, although no clear details were provided of which disciplines were covered or where.
Police did say the institutions involved had bought fake certificates which they provided to their students to boost their qualifications.
Although buying and using fake certificates is a crime on the mainland, punishment is usually lenient.
“That’s why there’s a strong demand for these fake papers,” Xiao said.
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