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Friday, 3 December, 1999, 15:35 GMT
Passport scam uncovered

More than 500 fake passports were produced

A failed accountant behind the UK's biggest ever passport fraud faces jail after admitting providing fake identities for international criminals.

William Horncy, 47, together with a number of associates, bought birth certificates from drug addicts, and other people who did not need a passport, for 50.

They then used the certificates to make bogus passport applications, often duping innocent professionals to be co-signatories.

Andrew Marshall, prosecuting at the Old Bailey in London, said: "The purpose in obtaining these passports was to assist in organised crime at the highest international level."

Most wanted

Passports provided by Horncy had been found on criminals and drug smugglers all over the world.

One was allegedly found on Martin Frankel, America's most wanted fugitive until his arrest in Germany earlier this year on suspicion of a $200m fraud in the US.

Another was found on a British man recently jailed for 15 years on heroin charges.

Other false passports had been recovered from people arrested in the US, Spain, the Irish Republic, and Holland.

Horncy, from Sturvale Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain passports between 1992 and July this year.

Mr Marshall said the prosecution case was that 80 passports had been traced - but it was thought there were many more.

He said: "It was a long-running conspiracy which the Crown believe to be the largest passport fraud to be uncovered - and perhaps by reason of the usage of the passports, the most serious."

He said that although Horncy played a "pivotal role", at the time of his arrest he was living on benefits in a rented bungalow.

The judge, Mr Recorder David Evans, QC, remanded Horncy in custody until next Tuesday for sentencing.

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