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From Courier News

Patton Erwin Eidson, 66, his wife Sonja Steiner Eidson, 72, face almost 40 fraud-related charges for allegedly using fake passports to travel in and out of the country.

Their daughter, Mia Eidson, 42, was arrested by police on June 15 and given bail to reappear in Mackay Magistrates Court on July 4.

The Eidsons, except for their daughter who was based in Mackay, moved to Julatten, about 100kms from Cairns, when they first arrived in Australia on fake passports in 1986.

They had, until five years ago, established and managed the Julatten Mountain Retreat.

Friends who knew the couple in Julatten told The Courier Mail they were completely "in the dark" on the couple's secret double-lives.

They said they were shocked and completely surprised by the news.

The Eidsons were caught in Charters Towers at 2pm on Sunday while on a Greyhound bus from Mount Isa bound for Townsville.

Mr Eidson told Australian Federal Police and officers from Charters Towers station he had been travelling under the assumed name of Michael McGoldrick.

The pair were released on bail yesterday after appearing in Townsville Magistrates Court.

Police prosecutor Helen Armitage said federal officers did not object to the Eidsons being granted bail.

The duo will be subject to strict conditions, including reporting to the Mossman police station, and surrendered their passports.

The AFP have tracked the trio since February, when they were approached by the United States Consulate General in Sydney for assistance following the death of the true identity claimed by two of the fake passport-holders.

Search warrants were carried out on properties in Cairns and Mackay with the help of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, US Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and the Queensland Police Service.

AFP Crime Operations manager Peter Sykora said the investigation was an example of the AFP's commitment to fighting identity crime.

"The AFP has Identity Security Strike Teams dedicated to the investigation of identity related crime, including the compromise of personal information and the production of false or forged identity documents," he said.

"The focus of the teams, which include officers from the AFP, DIAC, the Australian Crime Commission, state police and the Roads and Traffic Authority, is on investigating serious and complex identity security matters and forming a collaborative network among law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with this emerging crime type."

All three people have been charged with offences in contravention of the Foreign Passports (Law Enforcement and Security) Act 2005, Migration Act 1958, Australian Passports Act 2005, and the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

Additionally, all three were charged with producing false documents contrary to the Criminal Code Act 1995.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 months imprisonment.

A DIAC spokesman said the investigation, arrest and charging of these people was an excellent example of the whole-of-government commitment to combating identity crime, migration offences and passport fraud.

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