21 May 2012


In past conference papers I've noted the 'novelty identity documents' industry and 'alibi' services. It is therefore interesting to see today's ABC news item on a crackdown by Japan's police on alibi-ya services, ie businesses that -
provide women in the country's sex industry with a reputable but totally fictitious identity, designed to conceal their real job from their families. 
The companies provide things like fake business cards, references and employment certificates to sex workers, and have even been known to provide a fake boss for birthday speeches and other family events.
As in Australia and the UK, faux documents as such do not appear to be illegal. Fraudulent use of the documents and services is however an offence.

The ABC quotes alibi-ya operator Shintaro Sakamoto as commenting that -
We provide assistance to mainly hostesses and prostitutes. 
We help them to rent apartments, and we help them get their kids into nursery schools. We do this by helping them with their identity. 
Women who work in the sex industry or as a hostess don't want their father and mother to find out about it, and so we get many requests asking us to please create a more respectable identity 
The ABC explains that-
In other words, Mr Sakamoto's company sets the client up with a totally fake job and background - one which is acceptable to real estate agents and nursery schools which might baulk at dealing with a sex worker. 
Alibi-ya like Mr Sakamoto's even offer phone services. 
When, for example, parents ring the office their daughter supposedly works at, the alibi-ya will be ready with the deception, explaining their daughter is in a meeting and will call back shortly. ... The alibi-ya will then ring the woman's mobile and tell her to call home. Even the caller ID is fixed so it looks like the woman is calling from the landline in her fake office.
As in the West, alibi-ya service providers disclaim illegality -
Sakamoto insists that his business is merely about providing people on the margins of Japanese society with a respectable identity. 
"We don't provide this service when it's clear from the beginning that the purpose is for fraud, assets or money," he said.
"We limit cases to those clients who simply want to hide their work from their family."

And to do that there have even been cases of alibi-ya sending along a fake boss to weddings and other family gatherings to make speeches, all to keep up the charade.
Several years ago I chased the London Times profile of fakealibi.co.uk (archived here), bizarrely promoted as "the World's Only Legitimate Alibi Service" and "the only website that gives you assistance, in whatever you are doing" ...
With the pressures of modern life many of us have occasion to stray from our long term partners and dally with a brief sexual or emotional relationship with a third party, this is often a short term affair, inconsequential to our long term plans and relationships, but with modern communications, and media, it has become increasingly difficult to be able to carry on such a temporary dalliance, without risk of detection. Any chance of such a relationship becoming public knowledge in any way whatsoever can put an incredible strain on all parties concerned.
Family life, the home, business and children's welfare can all be put on the line for what may indeed have been a totally inconsequential short term flurry of sexual or emotional feelings.
We have been established to provide a way out of this situation, we offer a Service which can help to protect your loved ones from undue anxiety, and help to ensure the stability of a long term relationship and financial security, by offering secure and professional handling of "Alibi's" for you.
The service supposedly claimed over 21,000 satisfied customers who used it to provide cover for extramarital liaisons (including fake invites to conferences, provision of false accommodation info and misleading phone calls to a client’s partner). Judging by its site it also offered private investigation services in the US, UK, Belgium and Australia.

If you were a wannabe Danger Mouse FakeAlibi asked -
Have you ever dreamed of living an alternative, secret life? The majority of our agents are normal people living ordinary lives, some are bankers, teachers even TV presenters - but when they receive the call from us - they know an exciting adventure is about to begin. 
Although most of our agents work part time and whenever the need arises for their help they always free their time for us, but some are now working full time - they are our "Special Agents"
As of two months ago we now have a structure of command for our organisation ... F.A Commander - Joint Commander - Diamond Agent - Special Agent- Secret Agent - Agent - Trainee/Administration
A FakeAlibi rep reportedly commented that “We have a solicitor who advises us and if we have a job that we feel is a bit too edgy, we consult him”. There is no indication of what happens if it was misled.

The service is of course was dedicated to using its powers for good, rather than for evil -
The people who come to us are already having affairs. In some cases we are helping to save marriages. People having affairs are often not doing so because they want to destroy everything but because of any number of other reasons. They might be frustrated because of the long-term illness of their spouse or lonely because their partner is always away. They want to preserve their marriages and there might be children involved. People could get hurt if everything came out, and by helping to conceal the affair or fling we are actually assisting the stability of family life. 
Associate ReplicaDocs offered "novelty documents" that looked the same as legitimate UK bank statements, utility bills, payslips and drivers licenses. A single bank statement, utility bill and payslip cost £79.99. "Novelty" didn't come cheap: a "fully editable" template for multiple documents cost £499.

The site cautioned that
You must observe and comply with all applicable regulations and legislation. ... You agree in ordering any novelty documents from us, that without exception they are not to be used for financial gain, fraud, deception or any other criminal activity. 
Short-lived competitor fakeutilitys.com (archived here) offered a "Fake UK Photo Card Driving Licence" claimed to be "100% accurate to the originals ... guaranteed to be identical in everyway to the real issue 'dvla' licences" for a mere £300, birth certificats, insurance forms, bank statements and education certificates. Again, expensive novelties.

Theidshop.com boasted that
We can replicate most any passport upon request and proper pricing. Our Fake Passports are of the highest quality and look very near identical to an official one. In addition we can work on a one-on-one basic with you to create a completely custom passport job. Use our fake passports in conjunction with our fake ID's for a complete "New Identity" Package. Upon request we can create a complete identity solution. This can include a fake novelty id, fake passport and several other different forms of identification such as credit cards, checkbooks, utility bills and fake corporate documents if needed. Let us stress that creating our custom packages are only for individuals that are serious about creating complete turn key identify [sic] packages. 
Other vendors such as doctorsnotestore.com have marketed 'novelty' medical certificates, available online for people prepared to pay $40 or upwards for a 'sick note'.