Following about six months of investigations, police in Kaohsiung have arrested seven people in connection with the sale of counterfeit Taiwanese passports.
The passports sold for NT$5000 to NT$8000 (US$171-273) each. The forged passports took advantage of people’s desire to use Taiwanese citizens’ visa-free entry into multiple countries, UDN reported.
Ciaotou District Prosecutors Office said that Taiwan had arrested two suspects last August during an illegal drug investigation. The suspects, a 19-year-old man surnamed Duan (段) and a 22-year-old woman surnamed Ke (柯), led police to investigate the counterfeit passports. Ke confessed to selling the forged passports.
Police began an in-depth investigation into the forgeries following the pair’s arrest. They have arrested five more people in connection with the operation since March. Those involved face up to seven years in prison and fines of up to NT$700,000.
Police found that seven passports have been sold and delivered. Upon further investigation, the suspects claimed that their passports had been stolen or taken by agents. Authorities are skeptical of the alibis as none of those people had reported their passports lost or stolen.
Authorities said that while the initial cost is NT$5000-8000 each, the passports can then be sold on the black market for up to US$50,000. In some cases, authorities believe the passports may be used for various smuggling purposes.