American caught with fake “visa’

PHUKET CITY: Following an American man being caught with a fake permit-to-stay stamp in his work permit application, the Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO) has warned all foreign workers – and the companies that employ them – to remember that forgery of Immigration stamps and documents is a serious crime.

At the “Governor Meets the Press” meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall earlier this week, PPEO Chief Boonchoke Maneechote announced that people found guilty of producing Immigration stamp forgeries will be prosecuted, with offenders facing from six months to five years in prison, a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 baht or both.

The warning followed the September 19 discovery of a forged permit-to stay stamp in a work permit application of American Jeremy Loud. The application was submitted to the PPEO by Phuket Visa & Accounting service.

Boonchoke said that Loud, 33, requested a permit to work for DPic Imaging Ltd Partnership.

The American had granted a power-of-attorney to the manager of Phuket Visa & Accounting to apply for the work permit on his behalf.

When the applicant went to pick up the work permit, however, a PPEO officer noted that copies of the applicant’s permit-to-stay stamp failed to match the stamps in Loud’s passport.

The office therefore refused to issue the work permit, contacted Phuket Visa & Accounting to inform them of the apparent fraud, and reported the matter to police.

Nattasorn “Somjet” Eadkanan, Managing Director Phuket Visa & Accounting, confirmed that he had already been questioned by police over the matter.

He had hired a “freelance” agent named “Nong Man” to handle the work permit application on the company’s behalf.

“We hired him because we were busy and he had a perfect record with other jobs we gave him in the past. So when he prepared the documents for me, I signed them all without checking every page and submitted them myself to the Employment Office,” he said.

Neither he nor the American had any way of knowing that the application contained copies of a fake permit-to-stay stamp, he said.

Efforts to contact Nong Man at his Phuket Villa California home or by telephone have thus far proved unsuccessful, he said.

Somjet confirmed that Nong Man was a civilian and not a Thai government officer.

“I think he knows he has been found out,” said Somjet.

In 2004 a Phuket-based visa and accounting company came under the microscope for being involved in obtaining fake permit-to-stay stamps marked as issued at Sadao Immigration Office.

An internal investigation by Immigration into the fake stamps was inconclusive.

Phuket News
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