An official of the Ghana Immigration Service briefing some stakeholders
The Document Fraud Expertise Center of the Ghana Immigration Service (GSS) has disclosed that it dictated 498 fraudulent documents presented by airline operators and foreign missions in Ghana.
Since its establishment mid 2010, the centre has been analyzing documents such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, among others.
In 2011 the centre handled about 200 cases with the British High Commission presenting 73 cases, followed by the Italian Embassy and the American Embassy which forwarded 38 and 32 documents respectively.
A number of airlines also forwarded passports and visas to the centre.
The Turkish Airline sent the highest number of documents suspected to be fraudulent with a total of 134 cases out of which 128 were cleared while Air Marroc referred over 116 cases, out of which 85 were found to be genuine.
Speaking in Accra at an event, Fredrick Duodu, Head of the Document Expertise Center, stressed the need to collaborate to reduce the use of fraudulent documents to travel in and out of Ghana.
He mentioned that “there are a lot of counterfeit stamps in the system, the stumps are embossed on passports to show that the holders have embarked and disembarked an airline.”
Ibrahim Issaka Lang-Ham, a Deputy Superintendent of Immigration, noted that people substitute photographs in passport to deceive immigration officials.
The center has so far facilitated the prosecution of 21 cases. “But the penalties have not been punitive enough.”
The courts, he explained, treat it as misdemeanor and find the culprits GH¢200. “This amount is peanut, they can always pay and do it again.”
He was unhappy that some airlines failed to forward suspicious documents to the unit at the Kotoka International Airport while others who detect anomalies with the passport allowed the holders to travel.
“They claim the passengers have bought tickets and may have made hotel reservation and that if they do not allow the passengers to travel they would have to refund the money,” stated Mr Lang-Ham.
He opined that fraudulent documentation stems from illegal migration networks, trafficking of human beings, economic crime, money laundering, terrorism, organized robbery and cyber fraud.
Godwin Sam Agyery-Fynn, Systems Administrator took the representatives of the various airlines, embassies and missions through some of the technologically advanced gadgets that detect fraudulent documents at the center.
Angela Boateng, in charge of Security and Passport control at KML, told the paper that when passengers use fraudulent documents to board their airlines it affects their operations.
“If an airline is unable to detect the use of a fraudulent document it could be charged by the immigration office in the country it flies to. The charges could vary.”
She explained that the use of fraudulent documents is prevalent during the lean seasons.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey