Obtaining a stolen or forged passport on the dark net is not difficult, but it’s also not cheap. Phony or stolen passports can cost thousands of dollars depending on the quality and the country named on the coveted travel document. The most expensive passport on the Internet’s black market, however, isn’t necessarily the most “powerful.”
Vocativ analyzed prices for forged or stolen passports sold on 13 Websites across the dark net and found that Danish passports can be the priciest with a maximum going rate of $4,017. A Denmark passport, however, is not the most useful, and only ranks fourth on the Passport Index, a database that gives travel documents a “power rank” based on the number of countries to which a person can visit without a visa.
The index ranks the United Kingdom and the U.S. as the two most powerful passports, each allowing access to 147 countries without a passport. Yet, a forged or stolen British passport is the fifth most expensive travel document on the dark net with a maximum price of $3,490, according to Vocativ’s findings. The top price for a U.S. passport is $2,057, making it the 13th most expensive. The low-ball price for a U.S. passport is one of the least expensive at $938.
There are various reasons a less “powerful” passport is worth more money on the black market, but experts theorize that it could have something to do with the difficulty of forging more intricate passports, or the availability of stolen ones. The Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. Department of State, the federal agency that investigates stolen and forged passports in the U.S., did not immediately respond to Vocativ’s request for an interview.