Five held for tampering with passports, forging stamps

Gang used to target people intending to visit Western and Gulf countries

February 19, 2019 12:46 am | Updated 12:46 am IST - Hyderabad

Finding loopholes at embassies of different countries in issuing visas, a US-returned visa consultancy operator who allegedly indulged in tampering with passports and forging entry and exit immigration stamps, was arrested by the Hyderabad police here on Monday.

Mohammed Abdul Raheemuddin (42) of Hussaini Alam was involved in forgery of visa-related documents, said Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar. He said the forged document packages were given to people applying for visas to the US, Canada, the UAE, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and other countries.

On a tip-off, the Commissioner’s Task Force (North) police raided different places in the city and apprehended five persons, including Raheemuddin. They seized 88 Indian passports, three fake passports, two tampered passports, 130 fake immigration rubber stamps of various countries and ₹3.12 lakh in cash.

The gang used to target people intending to visit Western and Gulf countries for study, tourism and employment. “They would prepare forged documents of the client, including bank statements, identity card, offer letters, IT returns, property valuation certificates and affix the fake rubber seal on the passport to make it look genuine and hand it over to clients. The clients submit these to consulates when applying for visa,” Mr Kumar said. Police said that if they show a person had visited other countries on the passport or change the passport-issued place from India to US or other countries, the chances of getting visa will improve.

Modus operandi

Explaining the modus operandi, the officer said first the accused would soak the original passport in a chemical and remove the front and back page (where the details of the holder are shown) with the help of a ball pin. “Later, they affix a forged page with different place of issue and make entries and exits showing immigration stamps and apply for a visa. Once the visa is obtained, they remove the tempered page and fasten the original one, as it can be detected at the immigration counter,” the officer said.

“The immigration liaison manager at the embassy does not have access to the database of applicant’s previous visit to the countries entered in the passport or details of place of issue. So, believing that the applicant is a frequent traveller to foreign countries, they issue him visa,” an officer associated with the investigation said. The prime accused books slot for visa appointment and creates a user ID for clients and download the online application by collecting ₹ 30,000 to ₹ 40,000 as processing fee.

Raheemuddin also would brief them on how to attend a visa interview at the Consulate and once the visa is obtained, they would charge ₹ 3.5 lakh to ₹ 4 lakh for completing the process. Further, the gang would handover the original passport to the client without any forged entry and exit immigration stamps or place of issue.

Earlier, Mr. Kumar said that the accused prepared forged documents to over 450 clients, in which some of them obtained visa of different countries.

Other accused were identified as Khaled Khan (40), who prepares fake passport, Mohammed Shaik Illiyas (49), visa documentation agent from Chennai, Syed Omran (32), a DTP operator and Mohammed Zaheeruddin (49), a rubber stamp maker.

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