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Over 1,000 forged passports seized at Dubai Airports last year

A total of 1,027 forged passports were seized last year at Dubai Airports, compared to 968 in 2013. (Supplied)

By Staff

A total of 1,027 forged passports were seized last year at Dubai Airports, compared to 968 in 2013, according to top official.

According to statistic released by the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai), a total of 47,910 suspected passports were inspected by the Expertise Centre Identity and Fraud Documents (ECIFD) system at Dubai International Airport in 2014 compared to 64,652 in 2013.

Major General Mohammed Al Marri, Director General of GDRFA-Dubai, said that they are sparing no effort to ensure homeland security by using the high technology at Dubai Airports that can detect even highly sophisticated fake passports.

Maj. Gen. Al Marri added that passport control officers at Dubai Airports are well trained to quickly identify forged passports and documents.

"We invest in our staff to acquire skills. The officer must be able to recognise the security features of any passport in the world,” he said.

Captain Abdullah Mohammad Al Mutawa, Director of ECIFD of the GDRFA-Dubai, said that visitors trying to enter the country using fake identity documents are being easily exposed at the airport, due to the high-tech passport-reading and biometrics system designed to identify fraud. ECIFD was established in 2010.

Captain Al Mutawa said that out of the 1,027 fake passports found out last year, 818 were forged, 24 were documents with some changes and 185 were those used by someone other than the original owner.

He added that in 2013, a total of 968 fake passports were caught by ECIFD, out of them 765 were forged, 34 were s with some changes and 169 were those used by someone else other than the original owner.

He said usually those who try to enter the UAE using fake passports are sent back immediately to the country they came from.

He added that although passports and identity documents from all over the world are becoming more and more difficult to copy, criminals try to commit ‘look-alike’ fraud, which means that someone who looks similar to the original passport holder tries to enter the country with that passport.

He said that criminals do not select specific passports from a specific country to fake, they may fake travel documents from any country in the world which means there is no specific country with a high rate of passport forgery.

“The centre helps verify the identities of millions of travellers passing through Dubai Airports each year," he said.

He added that ECIFD stores data on travel documents and identity cards from over 200 countries. It has a library of sample documents and forgeries.

He explained that in order to help passport control officers at the airport to identify valid and forged passports, the ECIFD has trained all the GDRFA staff on security system.

The training centre of ECIFD develops and maintains a high level of expertise in document checking for national and international investigations.

He added that training in body language is also very important for passport control officers.

“People with forged passports are always nervous or try to act smart,” he said.

"We train the officers not only in recognising forged documents but also in customer service," he added.

"We want them to be very friendly because they are the first people visitors meet when they enter the UAE. The officers at the airport make the first impression on visitors,” he said.