Consumer series with Dominic Littlewood. We meet the teaching assistant who believed her online romance was with an American soldier but she was conned out of thousands of pounds.
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Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.
Welcome to Fake Britain.
Police officers! Stay where you are!
You're under arrest!
In this series, I'm investigating the world of the criminals
who make their money at your expense.
And I'll be showing you how not to get ripped off.
Excuse me! Don't treat me like a criminal!
In today's programme, we meet the workers using fake IDs to get real jobs...
There's plenty of evidence that suggests to me that this is a counterfeit document.
We catch the Blue Badge parking fakers on London's streets...
I'm asking you again - where is the badge holder?
And heartbreak and financial ruin...
just some of the side effects
of the fake soldiers targeting the bank accounts of British lonely hearts.
He took from me...almost £10,000.
Last year 220 million people came to Britain and they all needed one of these,
but some passports aren't quite what they seem.
But then again, neither are the people that are using them.
This is a West London base of the UK Border Agency,
and a large team of officers are preparing for a major operation.
They have identified a nearby company where they believe overseas nationals
are using fake IDs to fool the system and get work here.
It's a UKBA-led operation to detect failed asylum seekers and against illegal working.
Time to move out.
The scale of the problem with illegal workers in the capital
is so big that the West London team carry out major operations every week.
Dick Stratton and his team have years of experience
in searching for illegal identity documents.
We've just arrived at the target premises.
We've got six vans full of officers.
One van has gone round the back of the premises
to make sure that nobody escapes from the back and to make sure that everything is safe and secure.
We are going to look at your workforce
to see if there are any immigration offenders amongst them.
We will seek to identify as quickly as we can those who are of no interest to us.
While most of the workers are here legitimately,
the Border Agency suspect that a few have presented fake European Union IDs
to fool the employer into thinking they can work in the UK legally.
This man has presented the team with Portuguese ID which would allow him to work in the UK.
But the Border Agency think it is fake and he's really a Brazilian.
Your passport has been seen by a forgery expert,
and it appears it's a forgery. Someone who looks at a document...
-Someone has checked it?
-Someone has checked it.
It's his opinion that it may be counterfeit.
Records show he's definitely entered the UK using a Brazilian passport,
but his job and even his bank account have been secured with a Portuguese passport.
If the Border Agency are right and he's a Brazilian working illegally, he will be deported.
Later, we'll see how the team search for the man's real identity,
whilst the threat of expulsion plays heavily on his mind.
-Listen to me now...
-Don't treat me like a criminal!
Sending flowers used to be the classic romantic gesture.
Nowadays, though, you're more likely to be sent an e-mail.
However, online dating has become an incredibly popular way of trying to meet a new partner,
but people are finding that some online Romeos
are not just likely to break your heart, but also your bank balance.
Teaching Assistant Ilana Brown from London is no-one's idea of an easy touch.
The divorced mother-of-two is a former soldier and taekwondo expert.
But she'd thought she'd met her match in more ways than one
when she got talking to a handsome American soldier online.
I asked him for his name. He said, "My name is Terry".
He introduced himself as a doctor from the American Army.
These are the photos Terry sent Ilana, apparently of himself.
She sent some back
and their simple chats soon turned into an online romance.
I think I felt I'd found someone really special.
"You are the only one that I have..."
Soon Ilana was receiving daily romantic text messages and e-mails from Terry.
They started making plans.
"I can't wait to be with you and make sweet love to you.
"I love you, Ilana. I can't do any bad to you."
He's got a big house, he's going to sell it and come and live in the UK with me.
But it wasn't that long before Ilana's handsome soldier came to her with a problem.
After 2 weeks he said,
"Oh, you know, sorry I couldn't come online.
"I've got a problem here. I'm serving in Afghanistan.
"And one of my soldiers got shot and I'm really in trouble.
"Sorry for not being in contact."
And then he said, "Please, can you help me with £300?"
And then...I sent the money. I took £300 from my account...
and sent it to the address that he gave me.
Ilana was told the £300 she sent would help pay for treatment for the wounded soldier,
and that the army wouldn't pay for him.
Her online lover said she was the only one he could turn to.
She didn't know it yet, but she had taken the first step on a road to near financial ruin.
You voluntarily hand the badge over to me.
Later in the programme, Blue Badge parking fraud in London...
-I don't believe the badge holder's with you and I don't believe...
-He's obviously not...
And money down the drain...
£35 for a bottle of fake champagne.
There's no question these were being passed off as the real thing.
Terminal 1, Heathrow.
It's arrivals time for flights from Africa and Europe.
Immigration officers like Chloe check the passports of everyone landing here,
and make the critical decision that the person standing in front of them
is the same as the person in the passport photo.
But sometimes they have suspicions that the person may be an impostor.
This woman has just landed from Dakar and presented a Swedish passport.
The problem is she looks 20 years older than the woman in her passport photo.
Right, let's have a look.
She doesn't speak any English at all.
We need to take a picture.
And there are more problems with the passport.
It's showing up as lost or stolen on the Border Agency's database.
The officers are starting to think she's a fake.
Can you just look up?
I'm just trying to get a photograph of this lady
so that I can compare it to the photograph in the passport.
Deciding if somebody is an impostor or not is difficult.
With help from forgery officer Mike,
the new photo will be enlarged and closely compared to the passport one.
In this one there's a fuller face.
It's a much fuller face.
This face literally comes in
and then in again,
where this is very, very full.
Their analysis could be the difference
between whether this woman is granted entry into the UK or not.
-Also, the bridge of the nose...
You can tell, it's quite different.
It is, it's wider, and there's less distance as well between the two eyes, I would say,
than in the actual passport.
Every comparison they try is suggesting the woman who's just landed is an impostor.
It's time to get the interpreter in and see what the woman says.
OK, first, we believe that this isn't her in this photograph.
This isn't her passport. Can she confirm this isn't her?
THEY SPEAK SOMALI
-"This is not my passport."
-OK. So she's confirming it's not her, yeah?
The immigration officers were right.
This passport and this traveller do not belong together.
And how did she obtain this passport?
THEY SPEAK SOMALI
She bought it from somebody.
-From an agent?
-An agent, yeah.
And where did she buy it from, and how much?
THEY SPEAK SOMALI
"I paid him 4,000 US dollars."
It turns out this woman had applied for a visa to come to the UK, but had been turned down,
so had paid an illicit agent 4,000 for what she thought was a British passport.
She thought she had a British passport, where, in fact, it was actually Swedish.
But where she's illiterate, the agent's preyed upon that and said to her that this is a British passport.
"This will help facilitate your entry," where, in fact, it was a Swedish passport.
She should never have got the passport,
she should never have arrived in the UK in the first place. She should have been stopped at the airport.
She subsequently claimed asylum and is awaiting a decision on her case.
But an impostor with someone else's passport
is just one of the many unusual things immigration officers at Heathrow encounter.
Some passports they've seized have been far stranger than that.
These are some of the documents which we have been presented with.
This one is issued by the British West Indies.
According to this, though, he's a national of Barbados.
Again these are key giveaways on the passport.
You're from a country, Barbados.
Barbados has a recognised government, it has a recognised passport, why a British West Indies passport?
I think the key giveaway is the laminate on this one.
The actual key shape on the laminate which has no meaning,
so why you think they would put that on a laminate...
Why any country, if it was genuine, why a country would put a picture of a key on the laminate...
They do actually make you laugh some of the features that are inside them
when they try to replicate laminates and produce their own type... It just makes no sense.
None of the security features actually make sense.
Not sure if you've ever heard of the Hutt River Principality.
But it's in the western part of Australia...
but again we've been told it moves around.
It's one of them islands that move around!
Maybe next week we'll get it in America somewhere.
One thing is for sure. It's not a country and can't issue passports.
None of these documents are acceptable for travel, none of them are issued by any governments.
We've got a World Serviceman's passport. However...
this is almost a make-believe organisation that's been created,
and allegedly the officials of this organisation are handed World Sevice Authority passports.
And they are OK to travel on, so they think.
What is quite shocking though is when you look through the documents
and you see how many places these documents have actually been accepted.
You'll get visas inside them issued by various countries.
You get stamps inside them, entry and exit stamps.
Thankfully, none of these counterfeits made it past staff at the border
and on to the streets of Britain.
Staff at Heathrow have hung on to them purely for training purposes.
Here in Britain we like our bubbly.
In fact, we drink more of it than any other nation, which makes it big business.
However, I've found out that some champagnes like this one are fake.
And if you buy one you could end up feeling flat!
Trading Standards teams across Britain protect us consumers
from buying goods that might be fake or even dangerous.
Today, in Bromley, Kent, officer Rob Vale
is following up reports that fake champagne is being sold on his patch.
If members of the public
don't spot that it's a fake,
then they're going to be paying top dollar
for what is basically a £3 or £4 bottle of very low alcohol wine.
Intelligence suggests that a man in a white van
has sold various bottles of the bogus bubbly to small shops in the area.
All right there? I'm from Trading Standards.
We had an incident of some fake Bollinger being sold in the area recently.
So I'm just looking at a few shops in the area to check the stock.
Do you have any Bollinger on your shelves?
The storekeeper has one bottle of Bollinger left.
-Where do you get your stock from?
Same place all the time?
-And how long have you had this?
-It's been there long.
-A long time?
-How many have you got?
-It's the only one left. I don't buy too many. Nobody buys it.
-Cos that's actually a fake bottle!
If you look at the label, you'll see that it's a very smooth finish...
-They keep changing them.
-Yeah, but this is a laser copy.
-I don't really know...
-Do you remember where you got it from?
As the bottle is a fake, Rob is suspicious that it could have come from the white-van man
who's been selling counterfeits in this area.
And so he's going to seize it.
You taking my property from me without paying me? It don't make sense.
I'm seizing it cos it's a fake item.
-You're telling me...?
-It's illegal for you to have it on your shelf.
You came in here and you only found one thing and you're telling me it's illegal.
-There's thousands of other items!
-I'm not saying you done this on purpose.
-I don't want to lose my money.
-How much are you selling it for?
-I have to change it.
-No! I'm not letting you have the bottle.
-I've got to take the bottle.
If you tell me... Go and get your records, who you bought it from, OK? And I'll ring them.
I told you, a long time ago. All the records, I can't go and check them.
The shopkeeper's not happy to lose stock, but Rob is definitely sending this bottle for analysis.
-Thank you for your cooperation.
-Have a nice one.
-It makes it a lot easier. OK?
There is no suggestion the shopkeeper had any idea it was a fake.
The main indicator is this very cheap-looking label.
This bottle was sent back to the manufacturer who confirmed it was counterfeit.
Getting it off the shelves will have saved one shopper from wasting £30,
but across the country fake champagne is big business.
Later, we'll see the West London storeroom full of fake champagne,
and see the British single left devastated after meeting a fake soldier.
I was crying a lot. I couldn't sleep.
I was upset of what I did to myself.
The UK Border agency are on an operation looking for fake workers.
They've raided a food production company in West London,
and found photocopies of all the staff's passports.
They think as many as eight of them are fakes,
and they've been presented to the company by people who have no right to work here.
I am therefore arresting you and you are liable to be detained.
This man has definitely aroused suspicion.
He entered the UK on a Brazilian passport, which would mean he's not entitled to get a job here.
But his company records show that he presented a Portuguese passport to get his job,
so the officers think it must be a fake.
Stand up, leave your bag there. Unzip...unzip.
Have you got anything sharp in your pockets?
I'll be with you in a minute, OK?
-This is my job to do that.
-Excuse me...excuse me.
-Don't treat me like a criminal!
I told you three or four times. I'll walk to...
I have to hold your hand just in case you may fall.
You're coming behind me... How many people are here?
- He has a legal obligation, sir. - Don't treat me like a criminal!'
-I'm not going nowhere.
The team will have to go to the man's house
and search for any clues as to his real identity,
and look for the suspected fake Portuguese passport.
And he's not happy about it.
-I have something in my locker.
-I've asked you...
-I have personal things in my locker. Excuse me.
Yes, I know. We will get somebody to get the stuff from your locker. We'll get your stuff.
- What's your locker number? - I don't remember.
You are not making things any easier helping by being difficult.
Do you believe in God?
For all things you do down here, you pay.
The other workers will also have their home addresses searched for the fake passports they presented.
The team think they are heading for the worker's home to check his documents,
but he's got a surprise in store for them.
His keys don't fit the front door.
Did you gave me a false address?
No, it's not false.
You gave me an old address, then?
-Your previous address?
-But now it's my new address, just to make sure...
'And it turns out'
the address he's given us is an old one.
Now, he claims he just gave it to us because he was nervous and confused.
I think it's more likely he was trying to mislead us, but he's given us another address,
and we'll go on to that address to pick up his papers.
This time there's no mistake,
and the team carry out a full search of the man's room.
Bingo! This is what the man didn't want them to find.
We've got his Brazilian passport,
which obviously shows his true nationality.
It was hidden along with a counterfeit National Insurance card in amongst his Bible.
There we go!
And that's not the only revelation.
That's the counterfeit Portuguese passport.
We have the document,
and from what I can see here there's plenty of evidence
that suggests to me that this is a counterfeit document,
which all adds to what we found with his Brazilian documents.
He won't have much choice. We'll be looking to return him to Brazil as soon as we can.
By you having this, you could potentially go to prison.
The man wasn't jailed, but he was sent back to Brazil a few weeks later.
And later on, we'll see how the team have to deal with some unexpected finds
as they continue their home searches.
So you came four years ago, hidden in a lorry...
And more from the world of fake champagne.
But it looks like the party's over for the counterfeiters.
Having one of these Blue Badges allows a person with a disability
to park for free close to where they need to be.
That means it could save somebody thousands of pounds a year in parking costs,
and for some people that's irresistible, even if they're not entitled to it.
This is Harrow town centre,
and, as with most London boroughs, parking is at a premium.
But if you're the holder of a Blue Badge, as issued to disabled road users,
you can park for free, and also use spaces reserved for those with problems moving around.
You can even park on double yellow lines.
But there's one simple condition...
whoever the Blue Badge was issued to must be with you.
Across the country, councils believe that half of the Blue Badges are being fraudulently used
by friends and family of the person with a disability.
But in Harrow town centre, the council's counter-fraud team are patrolling the streets
to make sure the badges are being used to help the people they were issued to.
We're just checking to see what cars have what badges,
just so we can keep an eye on them.
It's not long before Sonia spots a car displaying a Blue Badge,
but there's no sign of a disabled person in the vehicle.
-Is this your daughter?
-Where is your daughter at the moment?
-In the shopping centre.
-Because obviously I've just pulled up
and I need to be able to see the badge holder.
But I need to obviously verify that the badge holder's with you.
And at the moment, all I've seen is you... Can we go and see if we can find...?
I don't know where she could be in the shopping centre...
Have you not got a contact number for the carer... that we can just phone?
Because obviously you need to have the badge holder with you.
The couple in the car insist they have just dropped their disabled daughter off, but Sonia wants proof.
If you had your disabled daughter with you'd want to park nearer to the thing.
This is where the parking is.
-But the parking's over there, did you try?
-Yes, we did.
You just said maybe it was full, so it's either one or the other.
The counter-fraud team have plainclothes police officers on hand to assist.
They claim that they've dropped the daughter off at the cinema with her carer.
Now the story's gone from gone to the cinema
to "Let me go and find her in the cinema,"
to "She might have gone into the shops".
The Blue Badge will be seized if the team think the couple never had their daughter with them.
-This is one of the policemen.
Why don't we come to the cinema with you and let's see if we can find her?
Why don't we do that?
We will do that if you give me some time.
I'll come with you. It'll shorten the time.
-I don't know where
-is right now. I'm trying to get hold of her.
-is going to the cinema.
-She is going to the cinema.
I've dropped her here. If she's popped into a few shops, it's not going to be five minutes.
-Have you got the carer's number?
-No, I'm not going to give you the carer's number.
-I don't have to do that, do I?
-Well, it would help.
When Sonia finally gets the carer's number, nobody is answering,
but Sonia has an ace up her sleeve.
We have CCTV cameras down here. What time did you pull up?
Despite all her protests, this woman later accepted a caution for misuse of her badge
and was given a parking ticket.
The people hit hardest by Blue Badge abuse are of course those who need it the most.
But road users like Helen Dolphin say it's never been harder to get around.
It's got so difficult to use my Blue Badge now
that I actually rarely go into my city centre,
because all the parking bays are just taken up.
Now, whether they're taken up by people who shouldn't be using those badges
or whether they're fakes, I don't know.
I don't think these kind of people do really appreciate the kind of difficulties
that their...basically, their selfishness is causing.
The team out on the streets of Harrow are trying to make life easier for people like Helen,
but they've found another case.
-I've come to collect them if they were here.
-I've just explained to your colleague that I was running late...
-So I'm hoping they're still in Harrow.
-And if they're not... I've just tried to ring them, it's going into voicemail.
Do you have a contact number?
I don't need to give you that.
There's a Blue Badge in the front windscreen of the car, but no sign of the child it was issued to.
I don't believe the badge holder's with you and I don't believe...
-Well, he's obviously not with him.
-Let me finish, please,
-..or that you've come to collect him.
So I'm asking you again, where is the badge holder?
I've told you he should be in Harrow.
OK. If you can find them, please bring them back and obviously we will be able to verify that.
-OK, then, I'll go and look for him. So can I leave my car here?
-I won't get a ticket?
-I'll instruct the parking attendant not to give a ticket for the next ten minutes.
My ten minutes start from when I start walking, yeah?
-may I suggest you go and try to find the badge holder and your wife?
-You're going to be here?
-Yeah, I'm not moving from here.
The man's got 10 minutes to prove he's telling the truth.
It's been 15 minutes, we'll give him benefit of the doubt,
and maybe give him another 5, 10 minutes to return.
If he does return with the badge holder, all well and good.
If not, he will be given a parking ticket,
and he will be asked to attend an interview at some point in the near future.
-She's gone home.
-She's gone home, has she?
-I phoned home and she's had to catch the bus.
Finally, he's back, but on his own, and that means another revoked badge.
You're taking the badge cos you think I've been abusing it?
-Yes. I'm intrigued. Where's the car seat...?
For the child? If you were coming to pick up your child, where's the car seat?
-My wife's got the car seat.
-Your wife's got the car seat?
-Because it's easier for her to carry in a car seat than in a pram.
-I have cautioned you.
-I'm going to speak to my solicitor.
-That's fine, not a problem.
-Do I need to be here?
-Yes, you do need to be here, Mr
But nothing with this man is straightforward.
-Are you living at
-I could be.
-But might not be.
-Is that a threat Mr
-You took it as a threat!
I haven't said anything. I said I'm sure I'll be seeing you somewhere. You take it however you want.
I'm sure our paths will cross.
But with the Blue Badge now definitely seized this driver's heard enough.
At the end of a busy day, the Harrow counter-fraud team have seized 16 badges,
all found being used fraudulently.
Good news for badge holders like Helen Dolphin.
I completely support the work of the Blue Badge investigation teams.
Something has to be done to stop this abuse because it's stopping a lot of disabled people from getting about
and doing everything that they need to do.
British consumers are being sold cheap sparkling wine and even fruit juice,
badged up as expensive famous-brand champagne.
But Trading Standards in Wandsworth, SW London,
have saved local residents hundreds of pounds by seizing all these fakes.
Here in Wandsworth we've seized
bottles of counterfeit Bollinger
that we found in various off-licences in the borough.
We've submitted them to the agents acting for Bollinger,
and they've identified them as cheap sparkling wine.
These were being sold at or very close to the correct price you'd expect to pay.
I think the smaller bottles were £35, and the bigger bottles, the big 1.5 litre bottles were £80.
There's no question that these were being passed off as the real thing.
If you bought a few bottles of this stuff, you'd be seriously out of pocket.
But there are a few pointers on what to watch out for.
This is a genuine one.
As you can see, the price it was sold for, 34.99,
which is about the same price as the counterfeit ones we've seized.
If you compare the genuine one here to the counterfeit one...
if you look very closely, you can actually see the difference.
The labels at the top here...
the Bollinger is embossed, slightly embossed on the genuine one,
as is the red label, Bollinger's embossed on there, where it's all flat.
I suspect the average purchaser wouldn't notice.
But the fakers haven't even stopped at making famous name brands.
Even the bargain end of the market is getting hit by counterfeiters who want your cash.
Have you ever tried Donmonay or Raymond Vadim Champagne?
Well, I hope not!
Because these cheeky little numbers have been fooling customers in shops and even restaurants across the UK.
But Linda Plested of Mid Surrey Trading Standards has been seizing them by the trolley load.
The names just sound like a champagne name,
Donmonay and Raymond Vadim.
I mean, they both sound very genuine, really, don't they? They're completely fake.
These particular brands don't actually exist, they're not champagne that's listed in France at all.
This was being sold for £20,
but we do know that the chap that bought it, the owner of the shop,
actually bought them for £10 each,
and he bought them from a white-van man.
And for that sort of money, what do you get to wet your whistle with?
There we go.
No, not at all.
I would suggest it is some sort of cheap wine. It's got a lot of sulphur dioxide in it.
Catches you at the back of your throat...
Definitely not, no.
David, you're from Trading Standards.
Fake champagne, is nothing safe any more?
Well, I think where there's a market for it,
and where the products can sell at a reasonable price,
counterfeiters will have a go at it.
Because if there are people willing to buy it, then they'll make it.
You've hit the nail on the head there. It's the market, it's the money.
Absolutely. And what counterfeiters will do is move around from product to product.
It could be champagne this year, could be wine, could be vodka the following year.
They're aiming this sort of product at people who aren't connoisseurs, aren't they?
Well, I think it's aimed at the person who occasionally buys champagne,
and perhaps will go to somewhere and think, "I just need the champagne, that looks OK, I'll buy that."
Give me the common denominators, the things you should look out for.
You know, where are you buying it from? If you're buying it from a smaller corner shop,
then if the name doesn't look familiar or the label looks a bit dodgy, then I'd say don't buy it,
and call your Trading Standards office.
Thousands of people across Britain have found love online.
Teaching Assistant Ilana Brown thought she had too,
with a handsome American soldier who was serving in Iraq.
So when he asked her for £300 to help out a fellow soldier who'd been shot, Ilana sent him the money.
He got the money, he said, "Thank you very much for your help. Thank you for what you done for me today."
Sent me more messages of love.
I was a bit happy cos maybe I helped someone.
What Ilana didn't realise was that she wasn't talking to an American serviceman.
She was talking to a conman, falsely claiming he was a soldier,
whilst really he was targeting her to get at her cash.
After two weeks,
he said, "Oh, please, I really need some help again with money.
"If you give me £1,000, I'll give you 1,600."
And like all good fraudsters,
Ilana's fake soldier knew a little romance would make her drop her guard.
"I've sent you this message and a letter of love from me to you."
I've got an overdraft that I could take out some more money.
I took £1,600 and sent it to him.
I know that someone will hear it and can say that I might be stupid to do that,
but when you are inside this situation, you think you're helping someone,
and you don't think that this person is going to trick you and lie to you.
But the longer they kept talking, the more Terry kept asking for money.
He told Ilana he was due to leave the army soon,
and would be due a large payment which he would give to her as a gift.
He even sent her the paperwork to prove it.
Ilana didn't realise it, but this was a classic scam.
The paperwork said that to receive Terry's huge payment from the army
all Ilana had to do was pay the Army's administration fees.
But the fees cost far more money than she had.
He sent a letter that is from the American Army,
saying that I need to pay £4,225
in order for me to get his fund which is 300,000 to my account.
Then my bank manager said to me... I showed this to him and I said, "Can I have a loan?"
He said, "I think you might be dealing with someone who is trying to trick you,
"and he might be false and a fraud."
And so I said, "OK, I'm not sending it if it's like that."
I went home, I sent this criminal a text message
saying, "You are a bad man. You're trying to trick me."
Then that day he rang me,
and he said, "You know I'm never going to hurt you.
"Your bank manager is just trying to break between me and you.
"And it's not true. I like you and I'm never going to hurt you."
So therefore the day after I sent this money.
Suddenly the romance seemed to go cold.
He's not replying to my messages any more, he stopped...
In truth, there was no Terry from the US Army. He was a fake soldier
and had printed out the letters himself.
Even the photos he sent were of someone else.
Once he had her money, he had no reason to keep chatting.
He took...by that time he took from me almost £10,000.
And now, because I took a loan of £4,200,
the interest on that will make it much more than £10,000.
And I have to face it and pay it now.
Ilana didn't listen to her bank manager,
but had she called the American Embassy in London they would have told her there was no soldier
and no lump sum payment coming her way.
Staff here often receive a call after a scammer has tricked someone out of their savings
by pretending to be an American soldier.
Did they ask you for money?
How do you know the person?
We generally get about a thousand calls during the year,
maybe 4,000 to 5,000 e-mail inquiries about these kinds of scams.
They've existed for many, many years,
but we do see an uptick
in the last year or two in the number of calls that we're getting.
These scammers now are going out...
very easy to go on to Facebook, to get in on blogs or Twitter accounts,
and to target people who might be vulnerable,
and so it's very easy for them to...
they just have to cast their net,
and they can bring in just dozens, hundreds, probably, thousands of victims.
I was crying a lot, I couldn't sleep.
I was upset of what I did to myself by giving my money,
the money that some of them I saved for my children,
for them for education,
and some money I wanted to buy a little car for myself,
and I just gave it away to those kind of people who do not deserve even a penny.
Bernard, you work with the National Fraud Authority
and deal a lot with romance scams. What sort of people are you up against?
Well, this is an example of organised crime.
These are professional criminals who are looking for different ways to take money off their victims.
And romance fraud is just one of a number of things they may be doing.
They may also be engaged in drug trafficking, people trafficking, all kinds of other organised crime.
And this may be funding their enterprise.
Probably a lot of people don't come forward and report this.
No, people don't report.
We've had a few hundred reports in the last couple of months,
and the total value of those reports, the money lost, is about three million pounds,
-Just for this country.
-These are people in our country calling our own actual fraud reporting centre.
And we really would encourage people to report because it's only by doing that that we'll know about it
and be able to catch these criminals by linking the different cases,
cos they'll be running tens or even hundreds of these cases in parallel.
Are there common denominators that these criminals use to try and get the money out you,
things that to us are warning signs?
I think there's always this question of urgency, it's usually desperate,
it's usually got to be done within 24 hours, some kind of crisis has arisen,
so it doesn't give you time to think rationally and think can this be true?
Why would this have happened so suddenly?
How could this person have had a fourth catastrophe in a matter of days and needing yet more money?
Then how they ask for the money. It's unlikely they're going to give you details of their bank accounts.
It's more likely they'll ask you to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram, these transfer agencies,
it's a bit anonymous, more difficult to track.
So all these are things to look out for,
but, above all, don't send money to people you don't know, it's as basic as that.
Earlier, the UK Border Agency raided a food production company in West London.
Illegal working costs the country billions of pounds in tax each year.
But today, the Border Agency have arrested eight men on suspicion of using fake IDs to get a job.
Now the hunt is on for proof, and that means checking the workers' home addresses
to try and find the fake documents.
-You must have something, my friend. How long have you been in the country?
One of the workers from the factory lives here,
but UK Border Agency staff have found two other men inside.
They suspect they've arrested this one before.
Where do you live now, sir?
Now, on Rayners Lane.
The man's admitted that he was recently caught working illegally
and should be regularly signing in with the Border Agency.
-We have no record.
But he never turned up to sign in.
Now he'll be arrested again whilst the Border Agency try to deport him.
-Since you've been in the UK, have you ever been stopped by the police or Immigration?
But this man's got a confession.
From which country?
France to here.
-You came from France, hidden in a container, in a lorry?
-In a lorry.
So you came four years ago, hidden in a lorry, from France to the UK?
Questioning this man could take a while,
so the rest of the team carry out a search for any identity documents
belonging to the man at the factory who also lives here.
The search has revealed how the man has been able to stay in the UK and get work.
They've found his fake passport with a fake work visa.
There's certainly large portions of this which are faked.
Counterfeit bio-data page. It's pretty poor quality.
It's certainly worse than the things we were seeing earlier at the workplace.
So I can't imagine that he's used this for that much,
but then again he's got bank cards and bank statements,
so it's quite likely that this document has been used to get the low-level documentary evidence
to build his identity in the UK.
So starting with a forged document, making his way on to bank cards
and so on and so forth, until the identity is established,
meaning that he then can operate in this identity as opposed to his real identity,
for which we've found next to no paperwork so far.
And moments later they find another passport.
These are both forged documents, this one is much closer to what you'd expect.
So he's probably paid more for that than for this one
Where did you obtain this passport from?
You can be prosecuted for possession of this document.
That's a criminal offence.
And typically they would attract a prison, a custodial sentence of 6-12 months.
We want your original passport. We want your real passport.
The officers need his real passport to quickly return him to his home country.
They believe that he is Indian, but need his genuine passport to prove it,
so continue searching in case it's here,
but there's no sign of a genuine passport, so the man will be arrested.
He's got a counterfeit passport, found in his belongings,
and we believe he's an illegal entrant and we're going to detain him
to see if we can make inquiries to establish his real identity and get him a passport.
The man insists he cannot produce his genuine passport.
And as neither of the men are supposed to be in the country, they are taken into custody.
Although they didn't find any identity documents belonging to the man from the factory,
it's proved a worthwhile visit.
The men were both later released, but required to report in regularly to the UK Border Agency.
The man on the right followed his instructions and will be supplied with a passport to get him home.
But since being arrested this man has absconded.
Over in Mid Surrey,
the Trading Standards team have found the perfect solution for their fake champagne.
As well as prosecuting shopkeepers for selling it,
they've got a bring-a-bottle party planned
with the stock they've seized.
The venue is the local recycling plant.
Just be glad it's not your throat it's being poured down!
I hereby name this champagne... completely fake!
That's all from Fake Britain today. Bye for now.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
We follow the UK Border Agency teams as they discover illegal immigrants using fake documents to get jobs in the capital. We meet the teaching assistant who believed her online romance was with an American soldier in Afghanistan - but it was a fake soldier and she was conned out of thousands of pounds.
We see immigration officers at Heathrow airport investigate a woman trying to enter the UK on a fake passport she had bought for thousands of dollars in Africa. We show some of the bizarre fake documents that travellers try and use to gain entry to the UK. We follow trading standards teams as they crack down on the burgeoning business of fake champagne and we reveal how people are faking their entitlement to disability blue badges so they can park for free and save thousands of pounds.