Man arrested after police uncover 'very sophisticated' ID forgery lab in Richmond, B.C.

Insp. Michael Cohee shows some of the seized equipment that was used to create fake identification at a news conference in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Insp. Michael Cohee shows some of the seized equipment that was used to create fake identification at a news conference in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

A man was arrested at a Richmond, B.C., home where RCMP discovered a "very sophisticated" identification forgery laboratory last month, police said.

The property was searched on Dec. 22, 2022, after Mounties acted on information from U.S. law enforcement agencies, said Insp. Michael Cohee, officer in charge of Richmond RCMP's Investigative Services, at a news conference Thursday.

During a show-and-tell of seized evidence, Cohee said officers found stolen credit cards, fake permanent residency cards, and production equipment including high-end computers, printers, laminating devices, plastic templates to print fake cards and computer-generated holograms that police said were used in the production of Alberta, Ontario and Washington state drivers licences.

"We located thousands of templates with various security features, including cutouts for Canada permanent residence cards, Alberta driver's licences and Washington state driver's licences," Cohee said.

The printers and laminating devices — used "to finish the cards in such a way to not arouse suspicion when the card is presented to the public" — are worth up to $5,000 each, Cohee said.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Guard your personal info

Cohee said that identify thieves steal personal documents from people's garbage and recycling, and then use images of themselves to create the false documents.

"So when they're going to a bank and institution, a car dealership, [or] you know, Best Buy to to buy high-end equipment, it's obviously going to be a picture of themselves with your data, your information on there," he said.

He warned the fraudulent IDs can be used to obtain personal lines of credit and loans including mortgages, as well as purchasing luxury goods like cars and watches.

Thieves can also obtain your personal details through theft of mail, or by buying compromised data on the dark web.

"So, protect yourself. Report all instances of mail theft to the police. Cut [mail] up, shred it up," Cohee said.

Charges have yet to be laid, though the investigation is ongoing, police said.

Anyone with information, or who feels they have become a victim of identity theft, is asked to contact their local RCMP detachment and should frequently check their credit reports through their financial institutions.