Fake traveller’s cheques worth Dh12m seized

DUBAI - The Dubai Customs has recently foiled a bid to smuggle in fake traveller’s cheques worth Dh12 million at the Dubai International Airport.

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Published: Wed 22 Dec 2010, 12:02 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:57 PM

Ali Maqhawi, Director of the Customs Airport Operations, said the case, the biggest ever in the Gulf region, unfolded two weeks back.

The bag of a passenger flying in from an African country to Dubai raised suspicion in a female inspector at Terminal-3 because of the ambiguous contents shown during the x-ray scan. “Being alerted also by the suspect’s body language, the inspector manually searched the bag and found 3,471 fake traveller cheques and 174 suspected bank cheques hidden inside three cardboard boxes, .”

The dollar cheques amounting to $1.032 million, equivalent to Dh3.79 million, were in 500 dollar category. There also was Euro cheques valued at 1.68 million Euros, equivalent to Dh8.33 million, which were in 500 and 200 Euro categories.

A traveller cheque is a preprinted, fixed-amount cheque designed to allow the person signing it to make an unconditional payment to someone else as a result of having paid the issuer for that privilege.

Maqhawi said the passenger, a businessman as per his African-based passport, claimed that he received the cheques from a passenger with overweight luggage at the airport of departure, and was supposed to return them upon arrival in Dubai. The suspect’s claims proved to be baseless as no such person did not show up. He was then transferred to public administration for airport security at Dubai Police for legal action.

Maqhawi warned passengers against carrying the luggage of any passenger they do not know under whichever conditions. “Some passengers have landed in jail despite their good intentions for just helping others with overweight luggage as the bags turned out to contain contraband.”

Dubai Customs inspectors at the Dubai International Airport, a month back, unveiled an earlier bid by another African passenger who tried to smuggle in some 1,000 fake traveller cheques worth Dh2 million during Eid Al Adha holiday. “So far this year, Dubai Customs have foiled 172 attempts by passengers of 22 nationalities to smuggle in forged credit cards to the emirate. Of these, 50 were valued at over Dh1.5 million,” he said. Indicating that forging traveller cheques and credit cards is seeing a significant growth these days, Maqhawi said that some people try to market these fake credits in economically booming areas as is the case here.

Maqhawi said many people prefer traveller cheques for their safety and availability in a number of currencies. “The prompt compensation for stolen or lost cheques and their acceptance are advantages of traveller cheques. Therefore, forgers use them to buy valuables such as jewellery,” he added.

ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com


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