Gang jailed for passports scam that let serious criminals go on the run
A gang who supplied “golden ticket” falsified passports to fugitive criminals including murderers and drug dealers has been jailed. Anthony Beard, who paid vulnerable people for their expired passports so he could apply for renewals using their names but criminals’ photos, was sentenced to six years and eight months at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday. He was jailed after admitting conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent. Another 74 offences linked to fraudulent passport applications were taken into consideration. High level criminals paid up to £20,000 for the fraudulently obtained genuine (FOG) passports, that enabled them to go on the run and start a new life abroad in countries including Spain, Portugal and cities such as Dubai. Beard, 61, from Sydenham, south east London, put contact numbers of his own burner phones on official forms and countersigned some of them himself as he shepherded more than 100 fraudulent applications through to completion. He would find people with similar facial features to his criminal clients and pay them to donate their expired passports, with other contacts pretending to be professionals to vouch that the criminals’ photos were genuine.