Document experts from all around Europe took part in the first Frontex Document Olympics earlier this month, where they competed to spot the largest number of fake documents in just a few minutes. They took part in a couple scenarios, including checking travel documents at an airport and other types of supporting documents provided by irregular migrants (like birth or marriage certificates) at a hotspot.
The Document Olympics are an innovative way to highlight the challenges related to the hundreds of millions of documents checked by officers at Europe’s borders every year. Often, the officers have barely a few seconds to decide whether the passport or marriage certificate in their hands is genuine. It takes skill and experience to be able to spot a fake visa stamp or residence permit.
It’s important to remember that fake documents are a crucial tool used in various crimes, ranging from fraud to terrorism.
This is why Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has opened the Centre of Excellence for Combatting Document Fraud to support Member States and address the threats to EU’s security connected with document fraud.
The Centre’s primary task is to provide support for combatting document fraud in joint operations. Frontex developed a reference manual for border guards containing images of passports, identity cards, and visas, to help them determine whether the document in front of them is genuine.
In the end, one of our Hungarian colleagues emerged victorious in the Frontex Document Olympics. But all of the experts took part walked away with a better understanding of what it’s like to spot fake documents at some of the busiest spots at Europe’s borders.