Immigration nabs foreigner-run syndicate forging official documents

HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN

PUTRAJAYA: The Immigration Department crippled a foreigner-run syndicate forging official government documents through a series of arrests this month.

It director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said eight foreign nationals, comprising six Bangladeshis, one Pakistani and one Myanmar were apprehended at Jalan Silang and in Bukit Jalil, in Kuala Lumpur.

The detainees are between the ages of 30 and 50.

Mustafar said the syndicate has been forging various official documents, including passports, temporary work passes, E-cards, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) cards, driving licences and Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) certificates.

"A month-long intelligence gathering (operation) led to the arrest of this syndicate, which we believe has been in operation for three years.

"They have been providing fake documents to foreigners from various countries to work and live in Malaysia.

"However, the passports which were forged were not used to leave the country, because the biometric system would have (not been) detected. These documents were only used inside Malaysia," he told reporters at a press conference here today.

He said the syndicate is believed to have sold the documents for RM500 to RM3,000 per item, and they earned between RM8,000 and RM9,000 every month.

The fake documents look and feel similar to genuine documents because of the high-technology equipment and techniques used in producing them.

"At one glance, anyone would believe the documents were genuine," he said.

Mustafar added that the syndicate has been providing its services largely to foreigners throughout the country, including in Perak, Kedah, Johor and Penang.

"The syndicate is believed to have been operating with the help of runners who use WhatsApp and WeChat applications, as well as emails to communicate with their ‘customers’," he said.

The mastermind of the syndicate is the 50-year-old Myanmar national known as 'Dr Harun'.

"We believe he is called doctor because he had a laboratory in his apartment in Bukit Jalil where he forged the documents," Mustafar said.

He added that the department confiscated RM5,745 cash, laminating machines, printers, several laptops, a pendrive with various document templates, a Bangladeshi Embassy official stamp and an immigration security stamp.

All eight individuals, who were picked up between March 9 and March23, are being investigated under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and Passport Act 1966.