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Passport Page Tearing Scare Story Rides Again


There’s a heavily liked / commented post on Facebook doing the rounds at the moment, and unfortunately it’s the latest reappearance of a very old spam missive related to passport page tearing shenanigans.

Here’s a shot of the post – you may well have seen this one before:

Click to Enlarge

3,500+ shares, 2,300+ likes, 700+ comments. What does it say? It’s a long, rambling infodump but here’s the supposedly “scary” part:


Please be Careful at the Airports, This is a well organized conspiracy by Immigration, Police, Customs and Airline staff with networking at all International Airports. Be careful when ever you give your passport to Immigration/Customs/Airline staff. The pass port can be easily tampered and can create trouble to you. They have found an easy way of making money. This is the way it works:

At the time of the passenger’s departure, if the passenger is not looking at the officer while he is stamping the exit, the officer very cleverly tears away one of the page from the passport. When the passenger leaves the immigration counter, the case is reported on his computer terminal with full details. Now all over the country they have got full details of the passenger with Red Flag flashing on the Passport number entered by the departure immigration officer. They have made their money by doing above.

On arrival next time, he is interrogated.

Subject to the passenger’s period of stay abroad, his income and standing etc., the price to get rid of the problem is settled by the Police and Immigration people. If someone argues, his future is spoiled because there are always some innocent fellows who think the honesty is the basis of getting justice.

You can see any number of versions of this floating around the web, and a (slightly) shorter version can be seen on the Snopes forum way back in 2005. To further the spread, it repeatedly asks you to send to everybody you can think of including “friends, media men and politicians”. It claims there are 15 to 20 cases a month, states that the amount has increased in the last 2 to 3 years while citing no statistics and even mentions that “airline counter staff are involved in the conspiracy”.

It would be a rare thing indeed to find an airport with no security cameras in place these days. Even without those, who gives a passport to an immigration officer to have it stamped and conveniently looks away at a squirrel outside for the time it would take to carefully remove a stamped page? And how would they get away with it with all those people standing around?

Did you know that some countries don’t stamp passports on depature anymore? Getting a stamp isn’t always guaranteed, as you can see here – and that’s before we consider that the airline would know if you were on a departing plane or not. Some places put those stamps on loose bits of paper, and even when your passport is stamped things can go wrong. I once had a 59 day entry visa for a trip to the Philippines, but the immigration officer didn’t read it properly and accidentally gave me a 21 day stamp. Hey, it happens and he corrected it without any problems.

You’re better off checking to make sure dates are correct on entry than worrying about phantom page snatchers and mysterious airport conspiracies on exit.

Christopher Boyd

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