• Sweden's news in English
 

Stolen IDs ferry asylum seekers to Sweden

Published: 11 Mar 2014 22:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Mar 2014 07:53 GMT+01:00

A relative of the 29-year-old passenger told Swedish media on Tuesday that the man had been on his way to Sweden when he boarded Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370. He was one of two men found to be travelling on stolen passports.

The Swedish Migration Board estimates that seven percent of asylum seekers show them ID documents that are either stolen or forged, of which a slim total of "two to three percent" are passports.

A person travelling to Sweden may use a stolen passport at the border and then switch to actual ID documents once they apply for asylum. That switch means the seven percent says little of the actual number of stolen passports in circulation among asylum seekers making their way to Sweden.

"It is completely impossible to say how many people travel on look-a-like documents," Migration Board spokesman Ola Andersson told The Local. "There are no statistics."

A stolen passports can fetch a hefty profit.

”We have different price estimates, but a fake or stolen passport can cost between $6,000 and $10,000,” said Andersson, who heads a new project at the Migration Board looking at how to identify and archive ID documents. 

Not all wayward passports have been stolen, however. There are other reasons a passport ends up in the hands of a person seeking refuge in Sweden.

"If you have family in Syria, for example, of course you send them your passport to get them out of there," a person with insight into the asylum process in Sweden told The Local on condition of anonymity.

If, however, a Swedish passport has been stolen, its owner can get it onto a digital equivalent of a no-fly list, but for passports not people. The process is simple: Report the stolen passport to police and it will be entered into Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, which to date has around 40 million entries. 

"Once it's been reported, the passport cannot be used, so even if you happen to find (your passport) at home a few hours later it's already too late," Kerstin Högback, passport expert at Sweden's National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen), told The Local.

As Interpol announced on Tuesday that the two men travelling on stolen passports were Iranian citizens intent on seeking asylum in Europe, the head of the international police body complained that not all airports ran passengers' passport details through its database, which was created in 2002.

“As we work to identify any criminal network which may have facilitated the theft of the passports used by these individuals to travel internationally, it remains of serious concern to Interpol that approximately four out of every 10 international passengers are not being screened against our SLTD database, and this should be a worry for us all,” said Interpol chief Ronald Noble in a news release. 

The statement further noted that "terrorists, murderers and war criminals have previously been identified by Interpol as having travelled internationally using stolen passports". Interpol also said the two men in question likely had no terrorism connections.

While the 29-year-old was on his way to Malmö in Sweden's south, his 19-year-old fellow Iranian was reportedly making his way to Germany. Authorities there report a higher proportion of stolen or counterfeited ID documents among asylum seekers than migration officers in Sweden do.

Nine percent of passports submitted to German migration authorities last year were either faked or had been tampered with, the Office for Migration and Refugees told The Local Germany.

In Sweden, police passport expert Högback noted that certain Swedish citizens' propensity to lose their passports over and over again certainly piqued the authorities' curiosity, but that the police had no power to intervene. 

"There are individuals who lose their passports several times a month, in which case it's likely that they sell them illegally," Högback noted. "Despite these suspicions we cannot prevent them from getting new ones."

"So let's say that the laws are a bit outdated," she added. "However, there are other ways for us to make it more difficult for them to get a new one, but that's something I'd rather not discuss right now." 

Additional reporting by Anders Sjölin, Stockholm, and Tom Bristow, Berlin

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stockholm gold store hit by masked raiders
Police outside the Kista Galleria in northern Stockholm on Sunday. Christine Olsson / TT

Stockholm gold store hit by masked raiders

A gold shop in a mall in Kista in northern Stockholm has been robbed by several masked men. The robbers beat staff, grabbed gold and then fled in a car. READ  

'Rape worse in Sweden than India', says Gandhi
Stop rape photo: Shutterstock

'Rape worse in Sweden than India', says Gandhi

India's women's minister Maneka Gandhi says that Sweden has worse problems with rape than India. READ  

How the world reacted to Sweden's Eurovision win
Måns Zelmerlöw celebrates his victory. Photo: Jessica Gow / TT / Kod 10070

How the world reacted to Sweden's Eurovision win

The world's press were - more or less - united in their praise for Måns Zelmerlöw's Heroes, Sweden's winning entry in this year's Eurovision READ  

Stockholm beggars hit in firecracker attacks
A person unrelated to the story begging in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Stockholm beggars hit in firecracker attacks

A beggar outside a Stockholm supermarket was targeted with a firecracker on Saturday, one of a spate of similar attacks. READ  

Hollywood stars join Stockholm Gumballers
Photo: TT

Hollywood stars join Stockholm Gumballers

The 17th Gumball rally starts in Stockholm on Sunday and among the more famous participants in their luxury rides are Hollywood notables Dolph Lundgren and David Hasselhoff. READ  

Armless man denied disabled parking spot
Photo: Magnus Manske/Wikipedia

Armless man denied disabled parking spot

A Swedish man has had his disabled parking permit revoked despite lacking both arms and thus unable to pay for a ticket. READ  

Armed robbers attack Stockholm money truck
Police investigating a previous raid in 2013. Photo: TT

Armed robbers attack Stockholm money truck

Police in the Swedish capital are investigating a raid on a van transporting cash in the city, with at least two robbers suspected to have made off with a bag of money. READ  

Swedes among least likely to die from cold
A woman stuck in snow in Malmö during the winter. Photo: TT

Swedes among least likely to die from cold

Cold weather kills 20 times more people as hot weather, according to a new global study, but despite Sweden's harsh climate its inhabitants are less likely to die in chilly temperatures than Brits, Spaniards or Italians. READ  

'It's good that Swedish defence is quick to react'
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven speaking to reporters on Friday. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin/TT

'It's good that Swedish defence is quick to react'

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has praised the Swedish Air Force after two Jas Gripen aircraft warned off a pair of Russian fighter jets that strayed close to Swedish airspace this week. READ  

Frozen berry sales up despite deadly sickness
Raspberries are a popular snack in Sweden. Photo: TT

Frozen berry sales up despite deadly sickness

UPDATED: Sales of frozen berries are rising at one of Sweden's biggest supermarket chains, despite the fruits causing a deadly bug outbreak at an elderly care home, which has led to other EU nations reviewing their safety guidelines. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Blog updates

22 May

Editor’s blog, May 22nd (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, The hot topic in Europe this week is whether or not the UK will..." READ »

 

8 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Daycare called today. They ordered me to drop all activities and come pick up my child...." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Is Avicii set to play at Sweden's royal wedding?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
National
Road trippers flock to 'The Bridge'
National
Why are Swedish supermarkets banning paracetamol pills?
Gallery
People watching: April 29th
National
"In many ways Swedes and Americans are kindred spirits"
Politics
Did you know four Swedish party leaders are women?
National
Swedish rescue team stuck on way to Nepal quake zone
National
Why Sweden's brown bear population is in danger
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Forshaga
National
Here's how a Swede became the world's boxing champion
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,351
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se