There was this piece from ZDF's Frontal-21 news documentary show from last week, which got my attention. It's a 8-minute video piece that you can sit and watch (all in German of course).
The emphasis of this piece is that smugglers are now actively working on getting not just fake passports and selling on the market....but finding real passports (even German type), along with insurance cards, licenses, etc.
As they point out at some point in the eight minutes....several thousand folks were stopped as they entered into Greece, with either fake or stolen passports. It's now a fairly routine thing to be seen in Greek airports.
Highly illegal? Yes. In fact, if you go and ask the law enforcement people....they will tell that they have more than enough laws on the books to handle this. But you'd need to actively look at every single person coming into the country or via adjacent countries. This is something that isn't routinely done.
I stood there two years ago at the Frankfurt airport....showing my passport with my ticket at the airline counter. At that point, it was done.....no one was going to ask around for any further ID as I advanced through the airport, and security.....to fly down to Corfu, Greece. Even in Greece, I just walked in the front of the terminal and picked up my bag....got into a taxi, and left. The hotel? They asked for just 'a' ID....so I showed them my German license. Upon leaving Greece? Nothing other than the airline guy wanting to see a picture ID to get my ticket. Arriving back in Frankfurt? Nothing. If you go outside of the zone....that's where you get stuck with ID checks and passport control.
Maybe a decade ago, you could have acquired a stolen passport and ran around for six months in Europe with it. They all link up these days.....so the stolen passport game is a very short and marginal game. The fake passports? Probably more successful than the stolen ones, but you see new technology all the time which note problem passports.
The Frontal 21 report is worth a review.