ID-card fraud ‘epidemic’ threatens Sweden

Sweden's commitment to transparency and access to information is turning the country into a favourite target for criminals who use fake IDs to defraud unsuspecting Swedes.

ID-card fraud 'epidemic' threatens Sweden

“People have started using our principle of freedom of information as a tool to commit crime,” Lars Minnedal of the Stockholm police fraud unit told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Since 2002, the number of reported cases of falsified IDs in Sweden has more than doubled, setting a new record in 2012 with 1,496 reported cases. Identity theft is more widespread, with more than 20,000 cases reported in Stockholm alone last year.

Security experts have warned that Sweden may be soon hit with a “fraud epidemic,” as would-be criminals can get all the information they need by making a call to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

“The society we live in makes it possible. The problem is that we have a freedom of information principle, and people never thought of how it could be abused in the way it is today,” Minnedal added. “You can access everything on everyone and there’s no requirement to explain what you want to use the information for.”

While Swedish identity documents are equipped with advanced security features, Minnedal lammented that many store clerks and sales people “systematically neglect” to look carefully at ID cards presented to them or lack knowledge of the card’s proper appearance.

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‘Discount’ phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden

A 75-year-old woman in the Håbo municipality lost over 120,000 kronor (11,200 euros) on Friday after falling victim to a telephone scam.

'Discount' phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden
File photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

The woman received a phone around lunchtime on Friday from a man who claimed he was calling from a telecommunications operator.

Following a method similar to others seen in telephone scams which target the elderly, the man is reported to have informed the woman that she had unused discounts and was required to log on to her online banking in order to activate them.

“He must have been persuasive, given that he convinced her to log on to her online bank,” Uppsala Police press spokesperson Linda Wideberg told Radio P4 Uppland, who reported the scam.

The incident is now being investigated as fraud, police said.

Other recent scams in Sweden have seen fake emails and text messages which purport to be from the Skatteverket tax authority. 

“Skatteverket will never ask for your account details via email or text message,” the tax agency said in a statement in June this year.