Singapore— Singapore’s passport is the most powerful one in 2019, according to a recent report, which makes it no surprise that forgeries of these documents go on sale for upwards of S$3800 online.
A travel document from Singapore allows users to freely travel to 189 countries either without a visa or with the possibility of gaining one upon arrival, and today’s forged versions “are 100 percent registered into the database system, so you will never have a problem using them” wrote one anonymous forger to The Sunday Times in an e-mail.
And apparently, these passports are not counterfeits but clever forgeries whose photos and other information have been replaced. Among them, many were once genuine passports that were stolen or lost.
As many as 7,000 passports were reported missing, either lost or stolen, from 2009 to 2014 in Singapore. During these years, 1,700 individuals traveling were discovered to have used forged or tampered passports at various checkpoints around the country.
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In 2018, Mohammed Iqbal, who is a Pakistani citizen, was caught in Bangkok with one fake Indian passport and three Singaporean passports. Plates and lamination material for forging entry visas to France and other European countries were also found in his possession.
Interpol now has a database of over 84 million records of lost, stolen and revoked travel documents, which include passports, ID cards, and visas.
For S$3,800 one can buy a forged Singaporean passport, and within days it can be shipped to any location around the globe for another S$100.
On the other hand, if one wishes to have a falsified identity card from Singapore, this will set them back around S$1,000. Other legal documents such as drivers’ licenses, tertiary-level degrees, and work permits may also be requested and procured.
These counterfeit items are usually paid for via digital currencies such as bitcoin since these transactions are difficult to trace.
The Straits Times (ST) published a report over the weekend about how in-demand these forged Singaporean passports are. It also said that US passports are even more expensive, at around S$4,300 for each, on the Dark Web, which is the part of the internet that cannot be accessed by regular search engines, but where much digital criminal activity is based.
However, the ST report also says that one seller of forged documents issued a warning. “There are people who (pass through checks) with my passports and other documents, but do your own research and do it at your own risk.”
In India last month, six men were arrested by police in New Delhi for forging the profiles of travellers in order for them to obtain visas quickly and easily. Police seized 62 fake passports and 28 fake immigration stamps of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and India from the six men, who had been using fake immigration stamps and bank documents for their forgery operations.
The six men were caught when a couple flying to Canada on a Canadian visa via Air Canada had no travel history registered in the immigration passenger log on March 2.
“There was no arrival and departure record against the couple’s passport in the system. The Indian immigration stamps affixed on their passport were also found to be fake. It was suspected that they had created fake travel history to get the Canadian visas by forging the Indian immigration stamp and they were arrested,” said the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sanjay Bhatia.
In early January, a man from Sri Lanka who had attempted to transit via Singapore carrying a forged Canadian passport, as well as the man who tried to help him obtain the forged document, were both given an 8-month jail sentence.
The Passports Act says that an individual who knowingly is in possession of a false foreign travel document can either be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to 10 years or both./TISG
Read related: Singapore passport, ranked highest in the Henley Passport Index update