The police uncovered a new form of passport fraud by Eastern Europeans. This is apparent from a secret police report in possession of RTL News. Criminals are untraceable for the police and fraudsters can receive unlimited numbers of financial aid and benefits.

People who have had their name changed in their country of origin can register again with this new name in Netherlands. The case may involve 50,000 false names.

Eastern Europeans who are already registered in the Netherlands and come back with a new name can re-register with a municipality. And that offers opportunities for fraudsters. A Romanian citizen who registers under different names can receive financial assistance or rent allowance more often. He can also apply for several credit cards or take out loans.

Criminals from Eastern Europe who come to the Netherlands with a new name have little to fear from the police. In the report, the police writes:

“By changing identity, criminal, wanted EU citizens can create anonymity and stay in the Netherlands.”

Changing name is simple

In at least thirteen countries in Eastern Europe, citizens can easily and legally change their names. For example, an actor can have his artist’s name placed in his passport, and an adult who uses his father’s surname can now take his mother’s surname.

Renate Marin, Head of Civil Affairs in Romania, tells RTL News that practically everyone in Romania is eligible to change his name. A name change costs about ten to fifteen euros and in principle you can change your name as many times as you like.

The police is not yet aware of the total amount of fraud. However, almost fifty thousand names emerged from a first search, possibly involving individuals with multiple identities.

Municipal team members are not warned

Municipalities are unpleasantly surprised by the police report. The Dutch Civil Affairs Association has not been alerted about this, says board member Joep Schulten. “And we should certainly have been because this is a big problem,” he says.

The police says in a response that the report was shared with government agencies dealing with immigration matters.