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Travel scam

Geraldine Panapasa
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A LOCAL businessman has landed himself in hot water after attempting to leave the country with a fake passport.

Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority confirmed yesterday the man, suspected of liquor smuggling and Customs duty evasion of about $1.3million, was stopped at Nadi International Airport last week while attempting to leave the country.

"FRCA had imposed a departure prohibition order on the man because of these investigations. However, he was able to obtain another passport under a different name," said CEO Jitoko Tikolevu.

"The passport bearing his name under the departure prohibition order list was found in his possession.

"The man was travelling with his wife.

"Foreign and local currencies worth over $150,000 were found in his wife's possession."

Mr Tikolevu said the wife had claimed ownership of the funds and was issued a notice of seizure by FRCA.

"FRCA has detained the funds and the woman has been requested to explain to the authority how these funds were obtained," he said.

"FRCA has referred the passport scam to police for further investigations."

Mr Tikolevu said FRCA would continue to be vigilant at the borders and acknowledged the hard work of Customs officers at the Nadi International Airport and assistance of other border agencies.

FRCA Customs risk and compliance national manager Tevita Tupou said the suspect was intending to travel to Hong Kong with his wife, adding they were investigating three cases against the Fijian man of Indian descent.

"Bootleggers have been around a long time," he said.

"One of the reasons they chose to smuggle liquor is because the duty is very high and it's good business for those who are able to smuggle that through."

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