International Identity Theft – Passport & Visa Fraud
Passport and Visa Fraud is a daily, escalating area of International Identity Crime. It is a matter of national and international security.
The U.S. Department of State, through its Diplomatic Security (DS) division, has investigated U.S. passport and visa crime since 1916. With special agents, analysts and support staff, and through continued coordination with federal (such as the FBI and Secret Service) and international (such as INTERPOL) law enforcement agencies, the DS protects perhaps the most valuable travel and identity documents in the world.
• The passport book is issued by the U.S. Government to a U.S. citizen for worldwide travel to and from the U.S. It is recognized as legal proof of identity and U.S. citizenship. Over 1/3 of U.S. citizens hold a valid passport.
• The passport card can only be used to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean, at border crossings and ports of entry. The card is convenient (it’s wallet-sized) and less expensive, and is an often-used alternative for those frequently returning from those destinations. More than 4.5 million have been issued since 2011.
• The visa – obtained at an U.S. Embassy or Consulate – grants a foreign national permission to apply for admission into the U.S. It is not a guaranty of automatic entry. A Department of Homeland Security inspection determines if – and for how long – someone is to be admitted. Two types exist: (1) Immigrant – for those intending to live permanently in the U.S. (under the Immigration and Nationality Act), and (2) Nonimmigrant – for those visiting the U.S. for tourism, business, medical procedures, study or temporary work.
Passport book and card fraud – How and Why is it committed?
• How. Assume the identity of a deceased person. Use phony support documents – such as fake birth certificates. Use stolen, altered or counterfeit passports. Avoid the two-parent signature rule for children. Use contactless credit card readers to wirelessly “skim” information from RFID-enabled passports. Use phony or illegally-copied fingerprints. Alter passports with forged signatures, different photos or doctored ID numbers.
• Why. Conceal one’s true identity (such as fugitive or terrorist). Enter the U.S. illegally. Avoid deportation. Commit financial crime and bank fraud. Enable criminal activities (such as drug, arms or human trafficking). Enable terrorist operations.
Visa fraud – How and Why is it committed?
• How. Present false documents when applying for a visa. Conceal facts – such criminal history in the applicant’s home country. Sell, traffic or transfer legitimate, legal visas. Misrepresent the reasons for requiring a visa. Forge, counterfeit or alter a visa.
• Why. Smuggle aliens into the U.S. Flee prosecution. Enable criminal activities such drug, arms or human trafficking. Enable terrorist operations. Support other crimes while remaining in the U.S. illegally.
Penalties can be severe: Imprisonment; stiff fines; extradition; deportation; lifetime bans against entering the U.S. ever again.
These are cause-and-effect, cut-and-dry violations and punishments, as presented by no-nonsense government agencies. These formulas are not the beliefs held by The Blanch Law Firm. Individual circumstances are not black-and-white. Nothing is “open and shut.” An alleged perpetrator is very often a victim.
Our firm, with a team of criminal defense lawyers experienced in passport and visa law, believes our client deserves the full attention and understanding a government agency will not provide. We want to present the whole story.
The Blanch Law Firm handles cases in the greater New York area, as well as in Los Angeles, Orange County, greater Southern California, and Houston, TX.
If you are the focus of a Passport or Visa Crime criminal investigation – or if an investigation is pending – contact The Blanch Law Firm today by calling 212 736 3900. Initial consultations are complimentary and confidential.