30 March 2013

Africa: French Police Break Up African Immigrant Papers Forgery Ring

French police have broken up a major network providing hundreds of forged documents to immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

In a raid in Seine Saint-Denis, just outside Paris, last week hundreds of fake papers were seized and 11 people charged.

Hundreds of fake documents and equipment for making and laminating them were seized at the home of the presumed boss of the network, sources close to the inquiry told RFI.

Twelve people, all of them Congolese, were also taken to the cells and 11 charged either for making the fakes or touting for clients.

Forgers usually work alone so the scale and entrepreneurial nature of the enterprise is extremely unusual.

The investigation began in summer 2012 when police became aware of a network helping unauthorised immigration.

They found a huge operation that allowed customers to apply for political asylum, bank loans and fake identity papers.

A phoney birth certificate cost about 30 euros, a fake visa 80 euros and a forged insurance certificate 200 euros.

Police believe that the network has been operating for "a very long time".

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