Exposed: Passport Scam That Helped Criminals Evade UK Justice

Duo Behind Passport Scam Given Extended Jail Time

Anthony Beard (left) & Christopher Zietek (right). Credit:

Two key figures in a major organised crime ring, responsible for supplying fraudulently obtained genuine passports (FOGs) to notorious criminals, have seen their prison terms extended.

On August 25, the Court of Appeal in the UK increased the sentences of Christopher Zietek, 67, and Anthony Beard, 61, who had been selling these passports for up to £20,000. Among their clientele were high-profile criminals like Glasgow murderers Jordan Owens and Christopher Hughes, Liverpool drug lord Michael Moogan, and Manchester’s David Walley.

In May 2023, Zietek, Beard, and Thompson were handed their initial sentences at Reading Crown Court. However, on August 25, the Court of Appeal determined that the sentences given to Zietek and Beard were too lenient. As a result, Zietek’s sentence was extended from eight years to 12 years, while Beard’s was increased from six years to 10 years and two months. Thompson’s three-year sentence remained unchanged.

Exploiting the System: The FOG Operation

These FOGs were genuine passports, but applied for using deceitful information. Jacqueline Beer, National Crime Agency Regional Head of Investigations, emphasised the gravity of their crimes, stating, ‘These men ran a lucrative illegal enterprise that enabled some of the UK’s most heinous criminals to evade justice in the UK and cross international borders undetected.’

She further added, ‘The increase in their prison sentences adequately reflects the severity of their offending and the harm it did in the UK and beyond.’

The NCA, in collaboration with the Dutch National Police and HM Passport Office, initiated their investigation in 2017. Beard and Zietek, both from Sydenham, manipulated vulnerable individuals, often battling addiction, who resembled their criminal clients. These individuals were paid for their expired passports, which were then used to apply for new ones with the criminals’ photos.

The Masterminds Behind the Scam

Beard, with a two-decade history in FOGs, was deeply involved in the entire process. His fingerprints were found on many application forms, and he even made calls to the HM Passport Office impersonating applicants. He confessed to supplying over 70 FOGs to criminals, including Jamie Acourt and Christy Kinahan.

Zietek, previously known as Christopher McCormack and believed to be linked to the Adams crime family in London, acted as the broker. He leveraged his criminal ties to secure clients. The NCA obtained audio recordings from Zietek’s residence, revealing discussions about the passport applications and their clients. Both were apprehended during NCA raids in October 2021.

Charges against them included conspiracy to pervert justice, creating false documents, and money laundering. Beard pleaded guilty on January 3, 2023, while Zietek was convicted on March 17.

Alan Thompson, 73, from Sutton, Surrey, was also implicated. He assisted Zietek in various capacities, from driving him to meetings to aiding in the FOG passport operations. Evidence, including a FOG passport and photos of clients, was discovered at his residence.

In conclusion, the increased sentences for Zietek and Beard underscore the seriousness of their crimes, particularly as they allowed dangerous criminals to escape justice and potentially reside among unsuspecting communities abroad.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.