Manama: Authorities in Kuwait have warned Kuwaitis against exchanging their passports for money from loan sharks and pay off their gambling debts.
Security sources told Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas that the authorities have noticed that Kuwaiti gamblers who lost heavily in casinos abroad and accumulated debts gave away their passports to borrow cash.
The gamblers then contacted their embassies or diplomatic missions and claimed they had lost their passports and applied for a travel document that allowed them back into Kuwait where they would apply for new passports.
The cases of the gamblers came to light after the authorities questioned the Kuwaitis who returned home on the special travel documents supplied by diplomatic missions to help them go home.
Investigations revealed that the Kuwaiti gamblers were often the victims of casino loan sharks who took advantage of their losses to offer to help settle their debts either by keeping their passports as guarantees or by ultimately taking over their properties and cars, the sources said, Al Qabas reported on Saturday.
The authorities warned they were strict about fighting the emerging issue and warned that Kuwaitis who falsely claimed they lost their passports would have to wait for up to five months to apply for new ones, the sources added.
Gambling is strictly forbidden in Kuwait.