Three men have been arrested across the UK in connection with an online document counterfeiting operation, the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad has announced.

The police didn’t specify which business was involved beyond saying that the three, aged 29, 40 and 44, were detained in raids at addresses in Cheshire, Surrey and Dorset on suspicion of offering bogus documents to carry out financial crime.

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"I would hope that our activity contributes toward driving home the important message that buying and selling counterfeit identity documents online or in any other form is illegal,” said Detective Chief Inspector Robin Cross of the Fraud Squad.

“The police will proactively investigate and prosecute anyone getting involved in this type of criminal activity,” he said.

For anyone thinking of acquiring bogus documents using such services, he had this warning.

“They should think very carefully about what they are doing - there is no legitimate reason for possessing a counterfeit identity document as far as the law is concerned."

During the raid, forged documents were found and computers and printers were removed for examination. Criminals often exploit loopholes in the identity authentication systems but there is no doubt that counterfeit documentation has become more important in recent times as more layers of checking have been introduced.

Common types of counterfeit document include financial references, passports, bank statements, driving licenses and birth certificates. Individuals producing this sort of paperwork are common; offering such a service on the Internet is a first for a criminal investigation.