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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 17:36 GMT
Jail for passport 'factory' pair
British passport
The documents were worth 5m
A Romanian couple have been jailed for a total of more than nine years for running a multi-million pound fake passport and credit card "factory".

Forged documents worth more than 5m were found at a house in Croydon during an immigration raid in June last year.

They included 1,335 fake passports and ID cards and 2,000 credit cards.

On Friday Constantin Dura, 24, was jailed for six years and eight months at Croydon Crown Court and Liliana Doleanu, 28, for two-and-a-half years.

Conspiracies like yours do massive disservice to the thousands of genuine immigrants and asylum seeker
Judge Simon Pratt

Immigration officers also seized forgery equipment including a card embossing machine, card skimmers, ultraviolet inks and official stamps from European governments.

It is the biggest operation ever dealt with by the Immigration Service.

The documents were used to traffic illegal immigrants into the UK and set them up with false identities.

Accidental discovery

At an earlier hearing Dura pleaded guilty to facilitating illegal entry to the UK, conspiracy to defraud central clearing banks, possession of forged goods and forgery.

Doleanu pleaded guilty to possession with intent of forged passports, ID cards and credit cards.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Simon Pratt said: "You, Dura, were deeply involved in the running of a forged document and cloned bank and credit card factory which I am sure was dedicated to the assistance of illegal immigrants into this country on a massive scale.

"Offences like yours and conspiracies like yours do massive disservice to the thousands of genuine immigrants and asylum seekers by the flooding of this country with illegal immigrants who doubtless have paid considerable sums of money to criminal gangs abroad."

Beverley Hughes
Forging ID so that people can enter and stay in the UK illegally is a serious crime which feeds the hidden economy and leaves people vulnerable to exploitation
Beverley Hughes
Home Office Minister

It emerged in court the discovery happened by accident, during a search for an illegal immigrant.

Mark Gadsden, prosecuting, said in addition around 100 genuine passports and ID cards were found in the house, as well as ultraviolet ink, which would have allowed the forgers to make any false documents virtually undetectable.

"The importance of stealing the passports was that from time to time the security features of passports change and therefore this conspiracy was keeping as up to date as possible," he said.

"That is why, in our submission, this was a highly sophisticated counterfeiting operation."

Both were recommended for deportation at the end of their sentences.

Home Office Minister, Beverley Hughes, said she was "delighted" with the outcome.

"Forging ID so that people can enter and stay in the UK illegally is a serious crime which feeds the hidden economy and leaves people vulnerable to exploitation.

"It is right that the courts take this type of crime seriously and I hope today's sentences will serve as a deterrent to others."

She said the creation and use of fake documents damaged the British economy and undermined those who wanted to come here legitimately.

"The smashing of this forgery factory is a real credit to the Immigration Service," she added.


SEE ALSO:
Fighting back on ID fraud
27 Nov 03  |  Business
Should we carry ID cards?
12 Nov 03  |  Politics


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