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Date [ 2014-04-29, 06:28 ]

Thailand takes measures to prevent the scam on foreign passports.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) C. John Berridge = In a previous issue Korean Press informed that two Iranians had boarded the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with fake passports. It was revealed that the passports were bought in Phuket, Thailand.

Now in a follow-up, Korean Press can inform that it is safer for foreign passports to be used in Thailand by incoming tourists and other visitors

Various news reports emerged indicating the many foreign passports were reported lost or stolen in Phuket. Further investigations revealed that many shops renting out motorbikes and other vehicles, held passports as collateral.  Thus it was easy for these passports to be forged or reused with a different bearer photograph.

Major General Apichat Suriboonya, Head of the National Central Bureau – Interpol Bangkok office revealed ,”The order has come from  the Royal Thai Police Commander,  Adul Saengsingkaew, that all law enforces, in particular the police, have to be more stringent in the checks for fake passports being used in Phuket, especially those used to rent vehicles,”

 In response to this new directive, about one-third of rental shops in Patong have begun to send photos and copies of their passportsof those renting vehicles, to the Interpol branch in Bangkok via a messaging application, in an effort to identify stolen passports and other crimes related to passport loss on the island. At last count, 31 of the 80 rental operators have co-operated with the call to prevent passport losses and theft.
“Getting this information allows us to check for the use of fake and missing passports, and could eventually lead us to an organized crime network,” Major General Apichat told the Phuket Gazette.

He added, “Asking operators to photograph renters also should help ensure that passports are returned to the correct person, and having the information in our database means we can use it later in the event of a problem.”

These operators, besides sending photographs to Bangkok, also have to make sure that all required information on the rental contracts are thoroughly filled. These should include the renter’s name, nationality and address in Phuket. As a double precaution, they need to call the hotel or lodge stated in the rental form to ensure the vehicle renter is staying there.”

It is understood that the police are powerless in preventing rental operators from continuing to hold tourists’ passports ascollateral.

“As far as I know, there iscurrently no law in Thailand prohibiting foreigners from handing over their passports to another person in mutual agreement. The best we can do for the moment is to launch a campaign among rental operators advising them against keeping the documents as collateral and perhaps finding alternative ways of safeguarding their vehicles when renting them out,” MajorGeneral Apichat divulged.

He continued by remarking, “Although we do not support holding customers’ passports as collateral, we understand the operators are at risk too when they rent out their property to strangers.”

Patong Police Deputy Superintendent Khunnadet Nanongkhai told the Phuket Gazette that police are trying various approaches to solve the passport problem.

An added solution is providing the Patong Police with the Case Management and Intelligence System (CMIS) software. It is believed that all though all Interpol member countries have been supplied with CMIS, at the moment only two countries actively use this system – the US and UK! But now Phuket has installed the system in two locations -  one at Phuket International Airport and the other in Phuket town.

“This software contains information about every wanted criminal in the Interpol database throughout Interpol’s 190 member countries. It can search passports in the system by name, telephone number or any relevant information about the person. It can also match the face to the name,” Major  General  Apichat explained to the Phuket Gazette.

Let us hope with these new preventive measures, less passport mishaps happen in Thailand.


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