• Kyodo

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Nearly 2,000 counterfeit credit cards have been confiscated during a search of a Chinese-registered cargo ship that arrived at Kobe port last month, Kobe customs officials said Tuesday. Customs officers found 1,921 fake credit cards aboard the 37,143-ton Gaohe, which has a crew of 38, the officials said.

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

The officers questioned the crew members but were unable to determine to whom the cards belong, the officials said.

All of the cards had the JCB logo printed on them and appeared to be authentic, but none bore the names of card holders or expiry 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. It reportedly headed to its next stop, Nagoya, on May 19.

It is the second seizure of fake credit cards being smuggled into Japan to be reported this 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.

Authorities believe an organized crime ring might be behind the smuggling attempts, because the cards are high-quality forgeries.

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.