Several hundred Albanians are reportedly living in Norway under false identities, after obtaining and using counterfeit passports that helped them get residence permission, open bank accounts and even set up companies. Authorities are trying to crack down on the illegal immigration.
Officials from the state tax office, the labour ministry and immigration agency UDI are teaming up with the police in an effort to better monitor the use of false identity papers, reports newspaper Aftenposten.
In 2007, just over 30 Albanians were charged with using false passports. In 2008 the number jumped to 138 and last year police handled 122 cases. This year is expected to end with around 300 cases.
Posing as an Italian
In one case, an Albanian man with a false Italian passport obtained a five-year residence permit in Norway. Posing as an Italian citizen named “Gianni Casstela,” he also opened a bank account in Norway, registered a business and bought a car on credit.
Last spring, reports Aftenposten, a car with Norwegian license plates was found in Hungary. Its owner, Gianni Casstela, hadn’t paid for the car and had disappeared, leaving bank account statements in the car and leading police to suspect a money laundering scheme.
Other illegal aliens in Norway have used false passports appearing to be from European countries that are part of the so-called “Schengen agreement,” which includes Norway and allows free movement and settlement across borders. They can then obtain residence permits and other documentation needed to live and work in Norway, often setting up firms that deal in various forms of swindles. Only when they’re caught for criminal acts are their false passports revealed.
“In one firm we checked, one of every 10 workers had false IDs,” Jan-Egil Kristiansen of tax department Skatt Øst told Aftenposten. UDI, tax and labour officials are now monitoring passports more closely, and nearly 20 persons were caught while applying for permits last year.
Norwegians, meanwhile, now need to subject to fingerprinting when applying for new passports themselves. The rules went into effect this week, as a means of making the passports more secure and complying with EU directives.