To a world I know under the surface, “The Doctor” opened doors for a few thousand bucks, delivering rebels and gangsters knocking at your door with fake passports that are pristine for the ones who enjoy living in the shadows; ones mischievous enough to walk a different edge. Many different walks of life went seeking The Doctor. Bring hard currency, and they'll deliver in days is promised. Lock and stocked. That was the buyers that were able to make the many ATM trips for the kick to skip borders.
But most of their customers are war refugees and migrant workers. Women as well as guys that endured life as prostitutes in their very own motherlands and thieved to dream in a different man's land with forgers jacking up the price to their liberty. All operated from the Doctor's handy shop; a humble, scruffy home within Bangkok's suburbs.
But this master forger now dwindles in Thai arrest after having a rare slip unspooled in his international criminal business that helped 1,000s of people fade beyond their real identities passed bordered countries with ease.
In late 2016, Thai authorities said they had finally dismantled his system adhering to a five-year probe, also sending a hammer strike to a many that provided A- quality forgeries to international trafficking syndicates.
From my travels to Southeast Asia, getting a forged or stolen passport (most documents) on the streets of Bangkok isn't a difficult task with the right new drinking buddy who has an uncle. There is always an uncle.
On the dark web, it's even easy, but it’s not economical. Stolen or fake passports can cost a huge number of dollars determined by the standard quality, the nation named on the travel document, and the envy of the purchaser. The Danish is by far the priciest passport on the Internet and the streets of Bangkok. Being voted 'happiest country in the world' has a clear message to what most of these war refugees would like a crack.
Doing some extra research on costs for forged or stolen passports sold on certain websites and a past of nosing around narrow city streets, I found that Danish passports could be the most pricey document out there! I am not going to publish prices, but under $10,000 USD to go chill with the Danes.
Nevertheless, it isn't the most useful and only ranks fourth on the Passport Index, a database that provides a “power position” to travel documents based on the amount of states to which an individual may see with no visa.
What isn't surprising and widely shared knowledge, the index ranks the UK, as well as the U.S. as the two most strongest passports, each permitting accessibility to 147 countries without a visa. Also with one (the U.S) being the easiest and most forged document on the planet. Not just The Doctor's office.
The U.S. White House or State Department have not immediately responded to my requests for answers. Busy with 'The Wall' I'm guessing and thinking about setting a budget to tackle document protection and forgeries of passports that allow you to cross international borders with a smile and duty-free whiskey...Last one, I assume.
There is an assortment of motives on why a less “active” passport is worth more cash on the black market. It has been theorized it could be something related to the issue of counterfeiting operations access, stolen items from tourists or the complexity of passports themselves.
Thailand has emerged as one of many leading countries that supplies forged or stolen passports, according to multiple media reports.
A 2014 post in the Guardian described passport larceny in Thailand as a “routine happening” after it was disclosed that two guys used fake passports stolen in Phuket to board the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which vanished during a flight from Malaysia to Beijing in March of 2014 and is still missing.
In the year 2012, a tremendous passport counterfeiting operation which was allegedly behind the creation of 3,000 fake passports over a five-year period and finally was dismantled by officials in Thailand and taking down The Doctor.
The draw of Thailand—specially Phuket(more direct flights)—for theft operations and passport counterfeiting is the lax limitations on the tools needed to fight counterfeit work files, together with a lot of tourists, it's become a fierce battle to enforce.
Even the head of Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation that was created to target the gangs accountable for the passport larceny and forgery rings, Tinawut Slilapat, described Thailand’s appeal in the year 2012 to a Bangkok magazine.
“Finally, it is easy to buy any kind of sophisticated equipment in Thailand to make forgeries,” he said. “All you need is money, and we are talking about a very lucrative revenue source for criminal organizations.”
Authorities say some criminal networks have winded since taking out The Doctor. But just briefly while gaping holes stay in the system and things simmer down.
Thailand does not assess passports against Interpol’s stolen or lost passport database which registers tens of millions of files. If it were, “we'd understand instantly, when a file was presented on Thai soil ”- head of Thai Interpol, Major General Apichart Suriboonya. “It was worth it ... but we didn’t do it,” he added when asked about Flight MH370 discovery.
Building a wall won't battle this problem, dip-shits. And get the bloody White House phone fixed!