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Sunday, August 14, 2011
FAKE DOCUMENTS:Day of reckoning for Oluwole fraudsters •as security agents raid hideout
Activities at the notorious Oluwole market located at the central area of Lagos went on as usual, last Sunday,when all of a sudden, an unprecedented invasion of the area by some security agencies changed the course of the day.
The area is noted as as haven for criminal activities of all sorts, ranging from rape, robbery and forgery in the highest order.www.mannastores.com
The security agents comprising personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service immediately went into action by arresting some of the unlucky individuals who could not escape.
Recovered at the end of the raid aimed at putting paid to activities of forgers were several fake international e- passports, fake NYSC certificates, fake vital government documents etc.
Investigation by Crime Alert revealed that the illegal businessmen operating in the area usually played on the gullibility of desperate Nigerians who intend traveling out of the country at all cost.
The operators, as gathered, usually collect money as high as two hundred thousand naira and above with a promise to get their clients the necessary documents to facilitate their traveling out of the country, in search of greener pastures.
But their promises always turn out to be false. Several times, those swindled ended up visiting the area with policemen only to discover that the person they transacted business with was no where to be found.
Activities at the popular market also include forgery of various kinds of certificates ranging from University results, NYSC certificates, visas of different countries,which would only take a professional to identify.
At the end of the four hour raid, several passports of virtually all the countries of the world were recovered, including visas. Some of them had passport pictures of their clients on them.
But the most shocking discovery was that of the newly introduced e-passport by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Displaying the exhibits which included electronics systems used for forgery, Thursday, the Comptroller of Immigration, Lagos State Command, Mr Sule Abass Ahmed, marveled at the sophistication with which the fraudsters operated.
For instance, he pointed out that they were well informed about any change either in signature or documents of any country at their disposal.
Their modus-operandi as explained by him, included getting the original visa or passport of any given country, after which they would scan such into their system.
Thereafter, if any client comes seeking for the country’s passport or visa, all they needed to do was to photocopy the scanned original copy.
Investigation, as revealed by him, also showed that sometimes, the culprits stole passports and visas from unsuspecting owners and replace the original passports with those of their clients.
In the case of international passport, he said fraudsters normally remove completely the lamination where you have effect of Nigeria Coat of Arm.
But in spite of these dubious attempts, Abass assured Nigerians as well as the international community that the credibility of the e-passport was still intact.
As part of security measures put in place to check activities of the fraudsters, he said the service has a device known as regular detector. “The detector is used to ascertain whether an international passport is fake or not.
When it is placed on the binding tread on the passport, it will reveal a green color and that means it is original. But the fake will remain colorless. Another way to detect a fake from real passport is that while ours has a blue thread that cannot be replaced anywhere , theirs will be white”
He therefore, warned members of the public to be wary of individuals who opt to help them with their traveling documents. He admonished further that the right place to obtain the Nigeria international passport was from the Immigration office.
Recovered at the end of the raid, according to him, were more than five hundred incriminating items in hard disk of the recovered equipment.
Some of these items include; blank NYSC certificates, WAEC, National ID card, statements of numerous banks, sample signature of government officials in many federal ministries, departments and agencies, Nigeria’s Coat of Arm seal, counterfeit visa, vignettes of some countries like India, South Africa as well as numerous e-passports and stamps of enforcement of other immigration facilities”
Certificates of universities like the University of Lagos, Lagos State University, Edo state Univerisity, Ekpoma, Ahmadu Bello University, Yaba college of education, Rivers state University and blank NYSC call up letters were also recovered.
Acknowledging the support of other security agencies towards achieving the feat, Abass informed that the arrested suspects who were currently being investigated risked spending their lives in prison, or spend at least seven years in prison, depending on the magnitude of the forgery.