Johor Immigration on hunt for ‘insider’ aid after cracking forgery ring focusing on fake Indonesian passports

Johor Immigration director Baharuddin Tahir (centre) said the possibility of an ‘insider’ was based on the suspect having competency in computer technology and in-depth knowledge of the department’s internal system July 20, 2020. — Picture by Ben
Johor Immigration director Baharuddin Tahir (centre) said the possibility of an ‘insider’ was based on the suspect having competency in computer technology and in-depth knowledge of the department’s internal system July 20, 2020. — Picture by Ben

JOHOR BARU, July 20 — Johor Immigration officials suspect one of their own may have aided a recently busted forgery syndicate that had been making money from falsifying identity documents during the ongoing recovery movement order (RMCO).

Its state director Baharuddin Tahir said the possibility cropped up during investigations on the main suspect of the syndicate, a 38-year-old Indonesian nicknamed Bagas who was nabbed during a sting codenamed Ops Serkap at a house in Taman Senai Jaya last Saturday.

He said the forgeries seized during the raid showed the involvement of a person with in-depth knowledge of the Immigration Department’s internal system and who was competent in computer technology.

“We believe this syndicate has forged other country’s documents, but from the seized materials, their main market is Indonesian passport holders,” he told a news conference at the Johor Immigration Department at the Home Ministry Complex in Setia Tropika here today.

Baharuddin said the syndicate has been making a killing during the RMCO catering to several sectors that were allowed to reopen but were in need of foreign labour.

He said the syndicate charged between RM120 to RM250 for each forged document.

Copies of the forged Indonesian passports, Malaysian Immigration i-Cards and Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 medical examination certificates from a private hospital were among documents seized during an Immigration raid in Johor July 20, 2020. — Picture by Ben Tan
Copies of the forged Indonesian passports, Malaysian Immigration i-Cards and Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 medical examination certificates from a private hospital were among documents seized during an Immigration raid in Johor July 20, 2020. — Picture by Ben Tan

A total of 15 Indonesian passports, 18 Malaysian Immigration i-Cards, and 23 Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 medical examination certificates from a private hospital that are believed to be fake were seized during the raid.

Baharuddin said Immigration officials believe Bagas is the mastermind. Initial checks show he has a valid work permit in the construction sector and had been working in the country for the past seven years.

He said three other Indonesians — two women and a man suspected of buying the forged documents — were also arrested during Saturday’s raid. All four suspects are being remanded for 14 days starting yesterday to facilitate investigations.

“One of the women is also the wife of the main suspect,” said Baharuddin.

He said Johor Immigration will work with the police and other security agencies to investigate the syndicate.

The case is being investigated under Sections 55 and 56 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and Section 12 of the Passport Act 1966.

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