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Counterfeit passport bust a timely reminder


Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

29 April 2008

Counterfeit passport bust a timely reminder

The recent smashing of an international passport counterfeiting ring by Thai authorities in Bangkok is a timely reminder of the value of the New Zealand passport and the need for passport holders to look after their most valuable document, Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said.

Thai authorities uncovered more than 1,000 fake Asian and Western passports including four New Zealand passports. The main suspect was apprehended in Bangkok.

Two of the four lost or stolen passports were used by impostors to attempt to travel to New Zealand and in both cases they were apprehended before boarding flights to New Zealand.

“The documents had their photographic and biographical details fraudulently altered and they were detected because they had been reported lost or stolen. It is also unlikely that counterfeits, in any case, would be usable for international travel because of the embedded security features in the New Zealand passport,” Mr Barker said

"This reinforces the need for everyone to look after their passports. The New Zealand passport is one of the best in the world providing Kiwis with visa free access to over 50 countries. That means the New Zealand passport will be targeted by criminals.

"Your passport is your most valuable document when travelling internationally. If you lose your passport then you should immediately report it lost or stolen and arrange for a replacement which can generally be provided in quick time.

"The introduction of a chip based ePassport in 2005 shows that the government is committed to ensuring Kiwis have one of the best passports in the world. The move to a shorter validity period will also make it more difficult for fraudsters to imitate the technology of the New Zealand passport and give them less time to develop counterfeiting techniques.

“Criminals need to know that if they misuse New Zealand passports or attempt to undermine its integrity they will get caught and potentially face serious penalties for their offending,” Mr Barker said.

ENDS

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