700 arrests 'tip of iceberg' of passport fraud
5 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Hundreds of immigrants enter the Netherlands every month illegally using a Dutch passport obtained from smuggling gangs, it was reported Tuesday.
5 October 2004
AMSTERDAM — Hundreds of immigrants enter the Netherlands every month illegally using a Dutch passport obtained from smuggling gangs, it was reported Tuesday.
The illegal immigrants — mainly from African and Asia — adjust their hairstyle and clothing to match the photo on the passport, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported.
The Dutch passports are not forged and are instead used by people who resemble the photos of the legal holders. It is claimed that the passports are being supplied by Dutch nationals, especially people of Somali and Nigerian origin.
The number of immigrants caught with someone else's passport has risen sharply, with 700 people detained so far this year while trying to take advantage of the scam. But the National Documents Bureau (NBD) said the number of people held was only the tip of the iceberg.
"Somalis, Nigerians and Chinese in particular use the method. It is a difficult problem because a Dutch border guard will often find it difficult to distinguish between the faces of Africans or Asians," NBD official Nico van de Kerkhoff said.
The NBD suspects that many Dutch nationals of African or Asian origin report a missing passport to their municipal council, but then sell the original to human smugglers. The smuggling gangs supply the passports to foreigners wishing to enter the Netherlands.
The number of reported missing passports has risen in recent years. About 150,000 disappeared in both 2002 and 2003, some 50,000 more than the years prior to those years.
One out of three people arrested at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for having a suspect Dutch passport was availing of the scam.
The Interior Ministry said the fraud is serious, particularly due to the increasing terrorism. The use of biometric passports and iris scans could significantly cut down on the problem, but it might take up to three years before this system is completely implemented in the Netherlands.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news