Nearly 2,000 fake credit cards seized from Chinese ship

KOBE, June 20 Kyodo

Nearly 2,000 counterfeit credit cards have been confiscated from a Chinese-registered cargo ship which arrived at Kobe port last month, Kobe customs officials said Tuesday.

Customs officers found the 1,921 fake credit cards inside the 37,143-ton Gaohe, which has a crew of 38, during a search of the ship, the officials said.

According to customs, the ship entered Kobe port at 8:50 a.m. on May 19. Customs officers found some counterfeit credit cards inside a bag in a passageway in the ship’s interior during a routine inspection. They then searched the entire vessel and found the rest of the fake cards.

The officers have questioned the crew members but have not been able to determine to whom the cards belonged, the officials said.

All of the cards had the JCB logo printed on them and appeared authentic, but none had the names of cardholders or expiration dates, and the magnetic strips were blank, the officials said.

The Gaohe runs a regular service connecting eight ports in Japan, China and the United States, and reportedly headed to its next stop, Nagoya, on May 19.

It is the second seizure of fake credit cards being smuggled into Japan this past month. A Singaporean man was arrested for trying to smuggle about 2,000 fake credit cards into Japan, police and customs officials at Narita airport said Monday.

The man arrived at Narita on June 2 from Singapore and was carrying the cards in a cardboard box.

The authorities believe an organized crime ring might be behind the smuggling attempt, because the cards are highly accurate forgeries, no different in appearance from real cards.

The fake cards seized from the Singapore man reportedly bear the names of six consumer credit companies based in Japan along with Visa and MasterCard logos. They had no numbers or names, and their magnetic strips were blank, the authorities said.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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