PUTRAJAYA- Two local men believed to be part of a ring selling forged Malaysian passports to foreigners have been detained.
The syndicate allegedly purchases legitimate passports from Malaysians for a small sum of cash, changes the photographs and sells them to foreigners.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat said the two men, both aged 29, were caught during a joint operation involving the Immigration Department and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) in Puchong yesterday.
"During the two-hour raid, which started at 10am, one of the men attempted to bribe an Immigration officer in order to purchase a Malaysian passport.
"The man had about RM70,000 on him at the time he was arrested," she told reporters at the Immigration Department headquarters yesterday.
She said the man was handed over to the MACC which then arrested the other man believed to be involved in the syndicate.
"We got wind of the syndicate after arresting four Sri Lankan men and three local women on Jan 1 who were flying to Teheran via Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
"The syndicate has an international network that arranges these travel documents for those who wish to go to certain countries," she said.
Aloyah added that intelligence revealed Malaysian passports were worth about US$10,000 (RM32,000) on the black market.
She said there was a possibility that locals were selling their passports to the syndicate.
"Malaysians need to be very careful with their passports and MyKad so that they do not fall into the wrong hands," she said, advising the public not to give their personal details to strangers.
She said in the first six months of the year, 7,466 missing Malaysian passports were reported.
Between 2008 and 2014 the number of Malaysian passports reported missing was 128,261.
Aloyah warned that stern action would be taken against Malaysians who sold their passports to such syndicates.
"In my opinion it is not worth it for Malaysians to sell their passports as the syndicates purchase them for between RM50 and RM100; but the same passports are then sold at more than 300 times the price they are purchased," she said.
She urged anyone with information on such syndicates to contact the Immigration Department immediately.