SureCert | Digital identity and background checking

Can we really trust ID documents?


This month, along with other verification colleagues, I decided to go online and see how easy it would be for me to create a fake identity and find documentation that could back this identity up. Like a lot of people in this sector, I have heard a lot of “urban myth” type stories about how easy it is to find and use fake identity documentation. I had assumed it was all about bitcoin payments deep down in the dark web, a place where few if any people I know have been – or should be! Nothing could be further than the truth.

I live in Northern Ireland and – until the pandemic – commuted to Edinburgh and London weekly. I have an office in Edinburgh, but apart from one invoice to my company, there is no trace of me in Edinburgh from an identity perspective. I decided I would try and find documentation that would confirm that I live in Edinburgh, essentially creating my fake Scottish twin. This wasn’t just for fun. This is a very serious issue. The recruitment process across both regulated and unregulated sectors depends on the credibility of the documents used to confirm identity and background, from passports, licences, utility bills and qualification certificates. Has this process been compromised? In short, yes.

Without giving too much away, I decided to focus on four key areas. Could I find fake identity documents for the following?

• Passports and Driving Licences;
• Utility bills;
• Work references; and
• Qualifications.

Passports and Driving Licences:

In short, any global passport is available online for around £600 (with an RFID chip included) or a driving licence for around £40, with a four to seven-day turnaround. Within this current environment, candidates being interviewed online have to hold up their formal identity document to pass a Right to Work in the UK check. Even if my fake licence isn’t high quality, it will pass this initial test. It would also pass the test if it were photocopied and emailed – by that stage, when the person turns up on their first day and shows this fake ID physically, what are the chances that this fake ID will be exposed?

Utility bills:

These documents are used in conjunction with national identity documents and are an additional source of information to prove that someone: is who they say they are; and lives where they say they live. I was able to acquire a Scottish Power bill that shows that I live in Edinburgh. Take a look at the document that we have displayed above – could you tell that it is a fake? It took me five minutes to source this document supplier – the document arrived within three days. I have passed it to the Police for further investigation.

Work references:

As you know, in all regulated sectors, employers have a legal obligation to confirm work references, in some cases for up to the last five years. If you need a fake reference – verbal, written, emailed, from a fake reference supplier online – no problem! There are numerous companies keen to provide any time of reference, all for £20 a reference.


You will note from our other article this month that some employers – including the NHS – never even ask for proof of qualifications, particularly in professions where it might seem rude to ask! Online, there are numerous providers of fake degree certificates, from most British universities. A Cambridge University degree in Medicine? No problem, it took three days.

How can this be stopped?

From extensive research online, I don’t think the supply of all of these fake documents will go away – if anything, as technology progresses, the quality can only get better. The only answer is to use digital services such as SureCert to ensure that this type of fraud, caused by reliance on paper documents, can be massively reduced.

Fake passports, driving licences and utility bills:

• In partnership with Experian, our digital identity tool can undertake an extensive search of numerous databases (electoral, financial) to confirm that your candidate’s identity exists, with the right date of birth, in the address provided. The candidate is then asked to take a photo of the identity document and a selfie – in less than nineteen seconds, our system also confirms the document isn’t fake and that the candidate’s selfie matches the photograph on the identity document.

Fake work references:

• The SureCert platform enables employers to send and receive all references and store them in a candidate’s profile. We have even developed a bank of employment reference emails – for example, if a candidate states they worked in SureCert, the email this reference is sent to will be auto-populated to my email address, meaning that only designated people within organisations can provide references.

Fake Qualifications:

• Working in conjunction with the Higher Education Degree Database, SureCert’s platform can provide employers with digital confirmation of all UK degree qualifications, often within five minutes of the initial request.

All of the above can be provided without any setup costs, a cost-effective monthly cost per user for unlimited candidates, with some limited transaction costs for identity and qualification checks.

Contact us today. It’s time to “Trust but Verify” with SureCert. Can you afford not to?

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