Preventing Fraudulent Passport Applications
New Keeping IDentities Safe Report: Preventing Fraudulent Passport Applications: Driver's Licenses are Key
The United States Passport is a near universally accepted travel document that is intended to prove both the identity of the bearer and his or her U.S. citizenship. This also makes it one of the most coveted travel and identity documents for fugitives, terrorists, and identity thieves who need to change or disguise their true names of record. Passports are often used fraudulently in connection with crimes, including narcotics trafficking, alien smuggling, and even terrorism. In 2006, nearly 1,500 fraudulent and counterfeit U.S.
Passports were intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at U.S. ports of entry, and over 2,500 new cases of passport and visa fraud, including application fraud, were investigated by the U.S. State Department.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit driver's licenses are presented for identification to businesses across the United States. Many times, these fake IDs are used to deceive banks and retails stores for financial fraud and scams, while other imposters use them to board airplanes and access secure areas. The huge scale of counterfeit ID sales presents a direct threat to public safety and our nation’s homeland security.
A new report published by Keeping IDentities Safe (KIDS) points to five ways to combat the widespread fraud. The report, “Counterfeit IDs: A National Security, Public Safety Threat”, acknowledges that most of these documents are used by minors to purchase alcohol and enter nightclubs, but others are used by career criminals, leading to millions of dollars in financial losses incurred through imposter fraud. While these crimes are more frequent, no one should ignore the significant danger of terrorists using counterfeit IDs to buy explosives or guns to hide their trail.
Each year, the courts address many instances of identity thieves who use counterfeit documents to hide their past criminal histories, such as drunk drivers and sex predators, and the terrorists who seek false driver’s licenses to carry out their attacks - one of the Boston Marathon bombers had a reading list full of how-to guides on ID counterfeiting.
“The al-Qaeda training manual explicitly instructs operatives to obtain fake IDs - a key part of the process of their attacks,” said Max Bluestein, Director of Research for KIDS. “This directive was followed by the 9/11 terrorists and these documents continue to be play a crucial operational role in many of the 60 major terrorist plots uncovered since.”
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