As part of efforts to tackle the use of counterfeit skills cards and qualifications, Mr Sidney said his fraud team often found that the perpetrators had ties with organised crime groups linked to trafficking and modern slavery.
“In one of the recent cases we’re working on and it’s still ongoing, we’ve got estimates that the facilitators are making £50,000-£60,000 a week through facilitating this type of activity,” Mr Sidney said.
“It is relatively low-risk compared to organised crime’s usual arenas of drug smuggling and guns. It’s relatively low-profile and low-skill. It’s certainly an emerging trend.”
He said criminal groups had become increasingly involved in fraudulent construction skills cards “over the last five to six years [as] organised crime groups [entered] the testing and training facilities, because they see it as an easy route to make money”.
Mr Sidney said “the bulk” of the people who used fake skills cards were foreign nationals.
Some of these people had arrived legally and were simply deliberately misinformed and subsequently convinced to use a fake card or qualification.
Others trafficked into the UK illegally will have had “their CSCS cards, driving licence and so on” handed to them on arrival and be ready to go onto a construction site.
“That’s all part of a debt bondage where they will end up owing thousands of pounds, and be indebted to the gangmaster-type person and that’s how they keep control of them,” Mr Sidney said.
There have also been instances where illegally trafficked people found to be in possession of fake cards were asked how they got the card, and “they will say quite openly they never did the test”.
“When we’ve asked them, ‘How does it have your photo on it?’ part of the package is they send photos of themselves across to their facilitator before they even leave their country of origin. It’s as organised as that,” Mr Sidney said.
Earlier this year in May, the Chartered Institute of Building claimed to have uncovered examples of labour exploitation on major UK projects.
In September, Thames Valley Police made three arrests following allegations of modern slavery on sites in Buckinghamshire.
Last month a fraudster was jailed for three years and eight months for producing and selling fake CSCS cards online.
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Organised crime ‘making £50k-£60k a week’ from construction | News – firstname.lastname@example.org (Binyamin Ali) – 2018-11-15 06:06:00