Hunt on for 25 ID theft conmen
A rogues' gallery of 25 identity thieves has been published in a bid to clamp down on criminal gangs who impersonate innocent people.
Pictures of conmen who were caught using genuine identities have been published by the charity Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
They have warned that criminals are stealing genuine identities to apply for documents including passports and driving licences, but providing their own picture.
The documents are then used by gangs involved in people trafficking and drug smuggling.
Nigel Kirby from SOCA said: "Be in no doubt, these fraudulently obtained identity documents are being used by criminals for criminal purposes. Organised crime groups are known to use them to further drugs and firearms trafficking, illegal immigration and fraud - which in turn causes harm to individuals and communities across the UK.
"Passports and driving licences do not just allow you to travel and drive, they are important identity documents that can be used to support applications for mortgages, bank loan or benefits. This is the first phase of this campaign and it is important that these criminals are tracked down and brought before the courts."
According to Crimestoppers, figures from fraud prevention service CIFAS showed that identity theft accounted for around half of all fraud recorded in the UK last year.
Crimestoppers Director of Operations, Roger Critchell, said; "Crimestoppers needs help from the public to locate these criminals as soon as possible. Please visit our social media pages and share the faces of these identity thieves with your friends and family and help reduce the likelihood of further innocent people becoming victim to having their identity stolen by fraudsters.
"We need to protect ourselves from such criminals particularly now with data driven identity crimes now making up the vast majority of all fraud in the UK."
The most wanted gallery has been posted on the Crimestoppers website. Anyone with information can contact the charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via an online form.