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Sunday, 12 February 2017

This is how the UAE detects fake passports

As the UAE is expecting an influx of visitors in the run up to Expo 2020, immigration officials are tightening their grip on forged and fake passports and travel documents.

The main Document Examination Center at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai is established for travel document forgery detection to keep control of all ports in the emirate. Established five years ago, it has helped detect 718 fake passports, 23 altered passports and 417 impersonation cases from January 2016 to 2017.

Aqil Ahmed Alnajjar, Director of the Document Examination Center, said modern technologies are constantly introduced to adapt to new and innovative methods of forgery.  He noted that Dubai airports currently see about 140,000 passengers coming in and out of the emirate daily, and the number is set to increase the closer the date gets to 2020. "We will see millions of visitors crossing our ports and have to tighten our security. The centre is set to be part of the state security system," said Alnajjar.

He added that there are 19 security features available in the majority of passports worldwide, which determine whether documents are genuine. Among the basic physical evidence include the watermark or coloured fibres on passport pages.

To detect forged passports, about 1,700 trained first-line officers are deployed across the counters of Dubai ports; the number is set to increase. "These officers are strap-ped for time, so we train them to spot signs of impersonation within six seconds, and fake passports within maximum of five minutes," said Alnajjar, noting that officers are constantly trained on new forgery trends that come up.

Through advanced retrochecks - a machine that helps check travel documents that are suspect - introduced to every counter at Dubai airports, first-line officers determine whether a document is genuine. "Most of the cases we see are fake first pages of passports, which are detectable at least 80 per cent of the time to front-line officers," said Alnajjar.
Impersonation is spotted through looking at prominent features of a person such as face structure, ear and eye shape.

When in doubt, the documents are transferred to 18 second-line officers, whose offices lie close to the first-liners. Alnajjar said the centre will be looking to deploy more officers in the coming period.

If physical evidence indicates that the document is fake, the documents are then checked by 50 employees at the main centre, located at Dubai airport's terminal 1.

Alnajjar added that eight remote machines scattered across Dubai airports' three terminals, Al Maktoum International Airport, besides other sea and land ports around Dubai, allow officers to transfer suspect documents to the main centre in a process that takes less than 10 minutes. "It saves time and cost and avoids delays for passengers," he said.

While two-thirds - about 66 per cent - of cases detected are fraud impersonation, the majority of cases witnessed are passengers who fell victim to promises of pursuing a better life. "Many people from developing countries fall victim to forgers who promise them a better life away from the political conflicts in their countries. They sell all they have to get their so-called new passports, which they are unaware are fake," said Alnajjar.

If fake travel documents are caught on arrival to the country, said Alnajjar, the person at fault is deported on the spot, after being blacklisted. If caught on the way out, the centre transfers the forged documents to the police to take further action.

The centre, however, is looking to introduce ways to file reports and transfer them to Dubai courts directly. "We are looking to save time and delays to passengers and the police by introducing a new service through which we can file reports to the court directly without having to go through the police," he said.

The ambition is to make the centre an institute for travel document examination. "Within the next five years, we want to be the point of reference in the region, where we train people on passport checking," said Alnajjar.

Major security features in passports
Majority of passports around the world have 19 security features that determine document accuracy. The most basic 10 are:

> Watermark (a faint design made on paper during manufacture, and visible when held against the light)
> Security thread (found on the corner of passport pages)
> Coloured fibres (small fibres on passports visible to the
naked eye)
> Fluorescent fibres (visible only under ultraviolet rays)
> Fluorescent ink (visible only under ultraviolet rays)
> Microprinting (information printed on passport that cannot be read without magnifiers; diff-icult to be copied)
> Optical Variable Ink (OVI)
> Intaglio printing
> Electrotype watermark
> Guilloche (complicated patterned print difficult to copy)

Number of forged documents detected by GDRFA
January to December 2016
Fake passports: 657
Altered passports: 21
Fraud impersonation cases: 391
Total: 1,069

In the month of January 2017
Fake passports: 61
Altered passports: 1
Fraud impersonation cases: 26
Total: 88

(Source: Khaleej Times)

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