Passport fraud 'a global threat'

2010-01-29 13:35

Davos - The biggest threat facing the world now, according to the chief of international police agency Interpol, is passport fraud - the millions of stolen documents that could be used by terrorists or criminals to travel worldwide.

It's not an obvious danger but one that came to the public eye after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a US-bound airliner.

Airport body scanners, embraced by many in the aftermath of that attempt, are a misguided solution, Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K Noble told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday night.

"The greatest threat in the world is that last year there were 500 million, half a billion, international air arrivals worldwide where travel documents were not compared against Interpol databases," he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in this Swiss ski resort, where 2 500 business and political leaders are gathered all week.

"Right now in our database we have over 11 million stolen or lost passports," he said. "These passports are being used, fraudulently altered and are being given to terrorists, war criminals, drug traffickers, human traffickers."

The solution, he said, is better intelligence, and better intelligence sharing, among countries.

"You don't know the motivation behind the person carrying the passport," he said. If you're a terrorist, he said, "Are you going to carry explosives that are going to be detected? No."

Many US airports use the body-scanning machines and airports in other countries are adopting them after Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on December 25 on the Detroit-bound flight.

Doubts over no-fly lists

Noble questioned "the amount of money and resources that go into these (body-scanning) machines".

He cited a case two weeks ago in a Caribbean country where five people were arrested carrying European passports, but were caught after they were found to be carrying stolen passports - one stolen back in 2001. The five were found to have "definite links to crime, organised crime, human trafficking but no definite links to terrorism", he said, though he wouldn't name the country.

He said US authorities are recognising the threat of passport fraud - in 2006 US authorities scanned the Interpol database about 2 000 times, while last year they did so 78 million times. They came up with 4 000 people travelling on stolen or lost passports.

Intelligence experts have cast doubt on the usefulness of the so-called no-fly lists of suspects shared among airports worldwide, saying that criminals can change their names or make simple name spelling changes that render them untrackable.

Noble agreed that the lists "are useful but I don't believe they are the be-all and end-all". He said he's concerned about governments' efforts to expand them.

Noble, who has expanded Interpol's efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime, corruption and maritime piracy in his nearly 10 years at the helm of France-based Interpol, also had words of warning for people hoping to donate money to Haiti after its devastating earthquake.

"Be very careful," he said, citing several cases of fraudsters preying on donors' generosity and stealing their money via fake charity websites.


- SAPA

Read more on:    interpol
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.