There are a number of incidences of passport and visa fraud in New York. The U.S. federal agents who deal with this type of fraud are the law enforcement part of the U.S. Department of State. They are known as Diplomatic Security (DS) Service agents. They work with federal as well as international law enforcement agencies around the world to identify and investigate cases of passport and visa fraud.
Committing Passport Fraud
The goal of those who commit passport or visa fraud is often to obtain the benefit of travel and U.S. residence they would not have with their true identity. The Department of State says there are a few common situations where people commit passport fraud. Many people do this to illegally obtain U.S. citizenship or another form of legitimate status in the United States. Fraudulent U.S. passports are desired by people committing such crimes as alien smuggling as well as drug trafficking and more. They are desired by fugitives as well as individuals trying to change or hide their identity. People committing some form of financial fraud, terrorists and more commonly commit passport and visa fraud.
Types Of Fraud
There are three main types of passport fraud that is investigated. It can occur when a passport applicant knowingly makes a false statement on their application to get a passport for travel. Passport fraud can also occur when an individual attempts to get a passport for another person or group of people. This could involve an individual making a false statement concerning the residence, identities as well a criminal history concerning those they have submitted information for to obtain a passport. When a passport is obtained for the purpose of hiding identity or avoiding detection for travel to another country, it is considered fraud.
This is a case of an individual who presents fraudulent identification during the passport application process. This could involve a fake Social Security card, birth certificate or even driver’s license. These are known as breeder documents. These documents could be counterfeit or genuine documents that have been altered. They can also be authentic document obtained using fraudulent methods.
There is a variety of different types of technology that can be utilized to detect passport fraud. There are current databases around the world that can be used for cross-referencing. Technology that utilizes radio frequency identification has also been able to significantly decrease passport fraud. Technology combined with procedures has caused many criminals to change their focus toward committing passport fraud in countries that don’t have the latest technology.
DS Agents from the U.S. Department of State as well as FBI conduct investigations concerning any type of alleged passport fraud. If criminal violations appear to have been committed, a federal prosecutor from the office of the U.S. Attorney General may file charges. This will happen if major criminal acts are identified as having been committed. A fraudulent act committed on a smaller scale may be recommended to a state prosecutor in the state where the fraud took place. An individual could be charged with conspiracy based on Title 18, United States Code section 371. They could also be covered with conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud. This is identified in title 18, United States Code section 1349.
Should a person be found guilty of lying on a passport application, the first offense could get them a fine of up to $250,000. They could also be given a prison sentence of up to ten years. Should the fraud conviction also involve trafficking in narcotics, an individual could also be given a prison term of up to 15 years. Should the passport fraud involve some form of international terrorism, the penalty could be up to 20 years in prison. When other types of illegal activities are involved, an individual could face charges and penalties in addition to passport and visa fraud.
National Security Threat
Hundreds of thousand of passports are stolen and fraudulently used by dangerous criminals and terrorists each year. Passport fraud is considered one of the single most significant threats to national security in the United States. When someone is suspected of committing passport fraud, the U.S. government will consider this person to be engaged in serious criminal activity and a threat to national security. Should an individual have committed passport or visa fraud, they need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.