Thailand's Trade in Fake Passports Raises Concern

By Phillip Yu
Wikimedia Commons

Half a decade ago, Thai and Spanish authorities arrested Muhammed Ather "Tony" Butt and Ahboor Rambarak Fath and uncovered more than 1,000 stolen passports from North America and Asia. Besides selling falsified passports to international criminal groups involved in arms trafficking and human trafficking, Butt also allegedly supplied passports to the terrorist group accused of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Organized passport fraud allegedly began in Thailand in the 1980s with stolen passports now selling between $1,500 and $3,000 each depending on country of issuance.

While there is no evidence yet that the recently vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was the victim of a terror attack, the news that two passengers were travelling on passports stolen in Thailand has raised tremendous concern about Thailand’s illegal market for stolen or falsified passports.