x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Customs catch 'businessman' with Dh12m of fake cheques

Customs inspectors at Dubai International Airport foil a bid by a passenger from an African state to smuggle the fake travellers cheques into the country.

Duabi // Customs inspectors at Dubai International Airport have foiled a bid by a passenger from an African state to smuggle into the country fake travellers cheques valued at Dh12 million.

The arrest, which took place at the Emirates Airlines terminal, also resulted in the recovery of a number of bogus bank cheques after a female inspector at Terminal 3 became suspicious of the passenger's luggage.

"The value of the dollar [denominated] travellers cheques amounted to US$1 million and all of them were of the $500 category," said Ali al Maqhawi, the director of Dubai Customs airport operations.

"The other euro [denominated] cheques had a value of €1.6m and were in €500 and €200 categories.

"There were also 174 bank cheques suspected of being fake, which were all hidden inside three boxes in the passenger's bag."

The unidentified passenger was carrying an African country's passport that had the title of "businessman" in the occupation column of the document.

He denied any connection with the cheques during the investigation, telling officials he received the bag from a passenger at the airport in his country of origin who claimed he had excess luggage.

The suspect was transferred to Dubai Police so that formal procedures could be initiated against him.

The number of forged travellers cheque and credit-card seizures had been on the rise of late as criminals sought to distribute them in developed markets, Mr al Maqhawi said.

"Despite being secure in cases of loss or theft, travellers cheques are not immune to forgery and this would harm the company that issued them in the first place and the economy in general," he said.

"Many people prefer to use travellers cheques for a number of reasons that include safety and availability in a number of currencies and prompt compensation for stolen or lost cheques.

"For these reasons, forgers use them to buy valuables."