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Italian tourist Luigi Maraldi with Region 8 police commander Major General Panya Mamen at Phuket Police Headquarters today

Identity Theft Tourist Tells: How My Passport Was Given to an Italian Man on Phuket

Sunday, March 9, 2014
PHUKET: Police apprehended identity theft victim Luigi Maraldi today in the wake of the mysterious loss of Flight MH370 with 239 people on board and were told how his passport vanished in bizarre fashion.

A man on the missing MAS flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing appears to have died while impersonating the 37-year-old Italian tourist. A second mystery man was on the flight, impersonating 30-year-old Austrian Christian Kozel.

Two other passengers now appear to have been travelling on false passports.

Officers on Phuket were checking late today whether Mr Kozel also had a passport stolen or lost on Phuket as Mr Maraldi gave an account of how his passport vanished last year.

He returned to Phuket on holiday again this year and Phuket police traced him to an apartment in Nanai Road, in the popular tourist nightlife hub of Patong.

Mr Maraldi said he arrived on Phuket on March 1 and was planning to leave on March 15. On a holiday last year, he said, he lost his passport in a deal that went wrong at a Patong motorcycle rent shop.

The woman who ran the shop told Mr Maraldi that she had given his passport to an Italian man who ''said Mr Maraldi was his husband.''

The ease with which passports can be stolen on Phuket is likely to renew criticism from international envoys who have been critical of the way passports are still being used as collateral for renting vehicles, despite their strong objections.

Mr Maraldi said the passport disappeared on July 22 last year and he went to police on July 25 to report that it had gone missing. He was able to fly back to Italy using a temporary travel document on August 3.

''I really don't have much to add,'' he said. ''I am not an expat who lives on Phuket. I have come and gone as a tourist.''

Mr Maraldi said he first learned about the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft when his family called him to check whether he really was the Luigi Maraldi that Italian officials told them had been on the flight.

The men who disappeared on the flight using the identities of Mr Maraldi and Mr Kozel bought the flight tickets through China Airways, an MAS affiliate. One planned to travel on from Beijing to Copenhagen, while the other was headed for Frankfurt.

So far, no wreckage of the flight has surfaced and no trace of its final movements has been established.

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The Thai Police should take good notice of what happened with the stolen passport and should check and control the Phuket (and other places) motorrent companies. I am often in Thailand, but I Always refuse to leave my passport at such a company. Most of the companies doesn't want to gice a motorbike without a passport.
probaly this Phuket company is involved in the robbing passport business.

Posted by Mr. Holland on March 9, 2014 18:22

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Apprehend a victim, but no mention of "apprehending" the car rental staff member. Here's another one, according to the car rental staff, someone, who they thought was Luigi Maraldi's "husband" came for the passport, how would this man know Luigi's name, either Luigi is a liar or the staff member is. I know which one I would suspect and it's not the one they have "apprehended."

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 9, 2014 18:41

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i actually thought that passports are "counter checked"at immigrations against theft or possible search warrants, just wondering that it is possible to enter a plane with a stolen reported document.... or were the immigration officers involved???

Posted by ulli on March 9, 2014 18:56

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Now the police get involved, better late than never I suppose or is it maybe damage has been done (pure speculation I know)

Posted by Michael on March 9, 2014 19:06

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This raises serious concerns.

Surely any individual who has his passport stolen, or loses it in any manner, first informs the police, then informs his country of origin.

Thereafter it would make good common sense if all countries set up a central register of 'missing' passport numbers that can be accessed by any immigration officer in any country.

Virtually all passports are now digitized & swiped at immigration control points in most countries. That would immediately flag up someone traveling under false identity.

Or am I being too simplistic?

It may be nothing more than a tragic accident ... but if it should ever emerge that this was some sort of terrorist attack that came about because of persons traveling on false identity that could have been prevented, then serious questions need to be asked & reviews made.

This is an issue far deeper than the thefts being on Phuket, however they came about.

Posted by Logic on March 9, 2014 20:38

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Further to my previous post, it has now been revealed that Interpol do indeed have a list of stolen or missing passports & it is now a major international concern that these 2 listed passports have been used concurrently to board this missing flight, with the FBI involved.

Posted by Logic on March 9, 2014 23:12

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I have to join the crowd asking why is the motorbike rental agency also not being called in for questioning ?

They admitted having lost the passport so that's already enough to press charges against them for illegally holding a passport as collateral.

Furthermore now that the s**t has really hit the fan, police should spare no effort to find out how the passport "disappeared" and where it actually went.

Better do it now before the FBI digs out the truth and Phuket police will end up being revealed for what they are.

Posted by ThaiMike on March 9, 2014 23:41

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Never give your passport to anyone for any reason. If the hotel asks for it laugh at them same goes for any other moron asking for it.

Posted by BitterReality on March 10, 2014 00:13

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Old game - new story. It always has to come down to a terrible event to reveal the truth.

For the past several years, I only give an outdated ID card. How is it possible to give your identity to someone you don't know at all, and mind you, not a reputable business.

Posted by Steve L. on March 10, 2014 01:09

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Logic, I agree with you 100%. How these stolen passports were successfully used would be laughable if it wasn't so scary.

Posted by Pete on March 10, 2014 08:00

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Those who rent motorbikes in the tourist areas of Thailand are caught between a rock and a hard place. Those who come from eastern Europe Russia, etc really have nothing of value (credit cards, or cash) to leave as a deposit for the bike other than their passport.Even leaving a passport is no guarantee as seen by some of the passport scams run by Russians (expired passports), which allows them to just walk away with the bike. Some even sell their passports and then declare them stolen. Until this Malaysian Airline disaster most people were not aware of the huge market for Passports. Hopefully a stolen or sold passport had nothing to do with the Airliners disappearance..

Posted by Ozette on March 11, 2014 16:19


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