Viewing cable 05VILNIUS778
Title: PHOTO-SUBSTITUTED LITHUANIAN PASSPORTS: PROOF IS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS7782005-07-27 13:42:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000778 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FRANKFURT FOR RCO - BARBARA ARMSTRONG 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KFRD CVIS LH
SUBJECT: PHOTO-SUBSTITUTED LITHUANIAN PASSPORTS: PROOF IS 
IN THE MICROPRINTING 
 
REF(S): VILNIUS 0701 
 
¶1. Summary: Good-quality photo-substituted new-generation 
Lithuanian passports, which have become increasingly 
popular with citizens of other FSU countries seeking to 
benefit from Lithuania's membership in the EU, are 
difficult to detect.  Fraudulent documents are generally 
only distinguishable from legitimate documents by flaws 
visible under magnification in the print style of the 
digitized photo and the microprinted name of the passport 
holder.  End summary. 
 
¶2.  Since Lithuania's accession into the EU in 2004, 
Lithuanian passports have become increasingly popular for 
mala fide applicants from other FSU countries.  Photo- 
substitution of old-style Lithuanian passports is the 
most commonly seen form of fraud, but border authorities 
have begun encountering large numbers of good-quality 
photo- substituted new-generation Lithuanian passports. 
While Lithuanian authorities note that fraudulent 
Lithuanian passports are rarely used in Lithuania - where 
they might be more easily detected - we are concerned 
that mala fide applicants may seek to use these 
fraudulent Lithuanian passports to obtain visas to the 
United States in other countries.  To supplement our own 
anti-fraud efforts, we requested a briefing on these 
photo substitutions for consular section visa staff, both 
local and American. 
 
¶3.  Captain Pavilas Taskevicius, Chief of the Lithuanian 
Forensic Document Center, informed us that prior to 
Lithuanian accession into the EU, roughly 75 percent of 
those using fraudulent Lithuanian passports were 
Lithuanian citizens hoping to hide past illegal 
employment, deportation, or criminal history.  Post-EU 
accession, however, holders of fraudulent Lithuanian 
passports are rarely Lithuanian.  Of the 200 people 
apprehended by UK authorities attempting to use a 
fraudulent Lithuanian passport, not one was Lithuanian. 
According to Taskevicius, mala fide Lithuanian passport 
holders are generally Moldovan, Ukrainian or Russian. 
The cost of these fraudulent documents reportedly varies 
depending on where the document is purchased: the 
original passport might be purchased in the Lithuanian 
countryside for 100 litu (roughly $35).  The photo- 
substituted passport may then cost 1,000 pounds in the UK 
or 1,000 Euro elsewhere in Europe. 
 
¶4. Lithuania began issuing new-generation passports in 
¶2003.  In the new-generation passport, the passport 
holder's biodata is recorded on a polycarbonate card 
inserted into the passport.  The advantages of the 
polycarbonate biodata page are that it is waterproof, 
durable, and requires special equipment to laser-engrave 
the information, ideally making the document harder to 
forge.  The disadvantage of the polycarbonate biodata 
page is that it is stiff and can crack or break. 
Additionally, the digitized photo is of lower quality, 
making one to one comparison more difficult. 
 
¶5.  The first photo-substituted new-generation passports 
were detected in 2004.  The photo-substitutions were 
initially very simple: the laminate over the photo was 
sliced out of the card, and a new photo inserted.  A 
laminate is then pasted over the page to conceal the 
cuts.  The photo-substitution is easily detected as the 
new laminate covers the security features laser-engraved 
onto the page.  Additionally, the substitute photo will 
be slightly raised and will partially conceal the UV 
image of Lithuania.  Looking up through the biodata page 
into the light will also reveal a shadow image of the 
original photo. 
 
¶6.  Forgers have since improved on these early forgeries. 
Forgers found that by slicing the edge of the biodata 
card, they could separate the card's composite layers. 
Peeling back the top layers containing the laser-engraved 
security features, forgers are able to replace the 
information on the biodata page.  The layers are then 
glued back together, leaving all security features 
intact.  The forgeries are skillful and of high quality. 
Taskevicius conceded that the Center's own experts had 
been unable to duplicate the forgeries as successfully. 
 
¶7.  Since the top layer's security features are left 
intact, a simple fingertip check of the laminate is no 
longer enough to detect the photo-substitution.  The 
photo-substitution can only be detected by examining the 
passport under magnification.  The laser-engraved photo 
in a genuine passport is shaded, with no consistent 
pattern in the printing.  Small black particles that are 
a by-product of the laser toner will also be visible in 
the genuine passport.  In the mala fide document, on the 
other hand, the substituted photo, printed on a laser 
printer, will show a clear dot-matrix pattern. 
Additionally, new-generation Lithuanian passports contain 
a security feature consisting of the passport holder's 
name printed in microtext beneath the photo.  Forgers 
have not yet been successful in clearly duplicating the 
microtext.  Use of inkjet printers improves the quality 
of the photo, but the pattern will still be visible.  The 
best clue, however, according to the forensic expert, 
will be the quality of the microtext. 
 
¶8.  Comment:  Lithuania began issuing electronic 
diplomatic passports with biometric features on May 1. 
Release of regular electronic passports is scheduled for 
spring 2006.  The electronic passport replaces the 
polycarbonate biodata page with a laminated paper page. 
The biometric chip (in this phase containing only the 
information from the biodata page) should prevent photo 
substitution in the future.  However, until all earlier 
version passports expire, photo-substitution of 
Lithuanian passports will remain a concern. End comment. 
 
Kelly