Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Kingston March 2009 - August 2009

Published: Tue 6 Oct 2009 04:50 PM
DE RUEHKG #0790/01 2791651
R 061650Z OCT 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Fraud Summary - Kingston March 2009 - August 2009
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. In the second half of FY 2009, Kingston's Fraud
Prevention Unit (FPU) focused on IV relationship fraud and
enhancing cooperation with our partners at the British and Canadian
High Commissions and the law enforcement community within the
Embassy. During the past two quarters, FPU attended a half-day
joint conference for the fraud units of the U.S., British, and
Canadian Missions; coordinated with CBP to train 212 airline
representatives on fraudulent document detection; and implemented
additional processes to prevent criminals from obtaining visas.
FPU received 406 Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) cases, 57 new Immigrant
Visa (IV) cases, 21 ACS cases, and 150 external requests (database
checks from DHS, airlines, local immigration, etc.). FPU processed
an additional 391 walk-in cases and entered 2,427 CLASS records
based on I-275 turn around reports, information from other agencies
and other tips. Of all the visa cases referred, 42% of IV cases
were confirmed fraud and 27% of the NIV cases were confirmed fraud.
2. (SBU) Jamaica, located 550 miles south of Florida, has a
population estimated to be 2.8 million and a 2008 GDP of USD 14
billion. In 2008, remittances were responsible for 20% of GDP and,
even before the effects of the economic downturn began to hit
Jamaica, its 2008 unemployment rate was 11%.
Independent since 1962, Jamaica is a member of the British
Commonwealth with a constitutional parliamentary democracy with
relatively high literacy rates, an outspoken and vibrant press, and
an open market economy. Two parties, both originating from labor
movements, dominate the political scene: the Jamaica Labor Party,
elected in 2007 and led by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and the
Peoples National Party.
3. (SBU) Jamaica is a major producer of marijuana ("ganja") for the
U.S. market. Jamaica is also routinely exploited as a narcotics
(including cocaine) transshipment hub. Jamaica is also a
significant transit hub for other contraband, particularly weapons
smuggling in the form of a robust guns for drugs trade with Haiti.
The Department rates the crime threat as critical. Depressed
economic conditions and the presence of the drug trade contribute
to civil unrest and criminal activity, including significant visa
and citizenship fraud. Illegal migration, transnational crime,
economic inertia, and a formidable HIV/AIDS presence adversely
affect U.S. national security, economic, democracy, and other
strategic interests.
4. (U) Jamaica's proximity to the U.S. mainland and well-developed
sea lanes and air links facilitate the movements of over two
million travelers, including well over two million American
tourists annually between the United States and Jamaica. An
estimated 34,100 U.S. citizens reside in Embassy Kingston's
consular district, which includes the Cayman Islands. Kingston's
Consular Section supports consular agents in Montego Bay and the
Cayman Islands.
5. (SBU) The incidence of suspected fraud in many government
agencies is high. Visa applicants often submit forged or altered
birth, marriage, and police certificates. Jamaica's corruption
index score by Transparency International has a 2.8% confidence,
placing it 96 out of 180 rated countries, which is well below other
WHA countries, such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, and Chile.
6. (SBU) H-2B PETITION FRAUD: Post has been involved in assisting
the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in a
criminal case against two of the Jamaican recruiters that were
finding workers for convicted alien trafficker Victor Krus: Clover
Mae Robinson-Gordon and O'Brian Gordon (Obriclo Marketing Agency).
ICE, DS and the members of the US Attorney's office came to
Kingston to observe H2b interviews as well as to familiarize
themselves with post's H2b intake procedures. Kingston's Visa
Chief will be testifying as a witness in the case in October 2009.
FPU also learned that Hospitality Management and Catering Services
had also been involved with supplying labor to Viktar Krus for his
staffing companies. In April, the Fraud Prevention Manager along
with an Entry Level Officer met with personnel from the Ministry of
Labour Overseas Employment Department regarding its processing of
H2B visas applicants and H2A agricultural workers. FPU has
expressed interest in the MOL's H2B and H2A conference tentatively
scheduled for late January to early February 2010.
7. (U) NIV DUAL IDENTITY CASE: Post has seen an increase in the
number of identity fraud cases caught through Facial Recognition.
Two cases in particular were performers who required a waiver for
prior drug activity through the ARO. In both cases, FR showed that
the applicant had been issued a visa under a different identity.
Both applicants were subsequently refused 6(C)(1). In both cases,
post requested an Advisory Opinion withdrawing its recommendation
for a waiver to which the Department agreed. An Immigration
Officer employed by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship
Agency (PICA) was terminated after FPU's investigations revealed
discrepancies on her letter of employment. In addition to
overstating her salary allowance, this applicant also forged the
signature of PICA's former Director of Human Resources, who was no
longer at the agency at the date of her employment was supposedly
signed. Another NIV applicant and member of Jamaica Fire Brigade
faced internal disciplinary sanction or dismissal after the
Brigade's Acting Commissioner apologized to the Embassy on behalf
of his Department, for this applicant discreditable act of
falsifying documents for U.S. training.
8. (U) J-1 SUMMER WORK AND TRAVEL PROGRAM: Post saw a large amount
of summer work and travel applicants. Now that all SWT applicants
should have returned to their studies, we have begun to put
together a validation study of those students who participated in
the SWT program. Post also plans to prepare a cable regarding the
SWT validation results as well as the increasing problem of
recruiter fees for the SWT applicants. Plans for future outreach
are proposed in order to streamline this group of applicants, some
of whom are improperly recruited by H2B agents.
9. (U) H-1B PETITION REVOCATIONS: Post has not submitted any
revocation requests during this time period.
10. (U) L-1A PETITION REVOCATION: Post has not submitted any
revocation requests during this time period.
11. (U) FPU staff conducted eight field investigations in immigrant
visa cases of which five were determined to be based on a
fraudulent relationship. Two of the Unit's LES Fraud Investigators
and an entry level officer participated in these trips. The field
trips covered six of Jamaica's parishes [local administrative unit
equivalent to a U.S. state].
12. (U) Kingston has encouraged (but not required) many applicants
in romantic relationship cases (IR1, CR1, K1, K3) who do not
immediately convince the adjudicating officer of the bona fides of
their relationships to bring petitioners to their follow-up
interviews. The higher percentage of petitioners present at
follow-up interviews has improved the officers' ability to detect
relationship fraud. Also, FPU's LES investigators have conducted
more split interviews of the petitioner and applicant in recent
months, applying their wealth of local knowledge and years of
experience to garner more confessions of relationship fraud and
saving adjudicating officers interview time. These successful
split interviews also save FPU time and resources by reducing the
number of local field investigations required to complete fraud
reviews of questionable immigrant visa cases.
13. (U) Jamaicans are not eligible to participate in the DV
program. Kingston processes only a minuscule number of cases for
applicants from other countries.
14. (SBU) U.S. PASSPORT FRAUD: On September 2, a Jamaican
immigration official brought an altered birth certificate and two
U.S. passports to the Embassy in connection with an ongoing case.
The passports belonged to AMCIT Joy Marie Jeffrey and her alleged
son Uckello Akhtar. Uckello Akhtar and his biological mother,
Natalee Edwards, were issued nonimmigrant visas in 2007 and
traveled to the United States in 2007. In support of a jointly
filed petition for Alein relative (Form I-130) and an Application
for Adjustment of Status (I-485), Ms. Jeffrey presented an altered
birth certificate listing her as Uckello's mother. He was issued a
U.S. passport in 2008. Ms. Jeffrey then returned to Jamaica and
filed for unconditional stay for Uckello using his U.S. passport,
however, this claim was denied because Ms. Jeffrey presented the
same altered birth certificate. Ms. Jeffrey was charged by the
Jamaican police with altering/forging an official document and
presenting an altered document; she pled guilty and paid a fine on
September 4, 2009. Post continues to work with CA/OCS/PRI on this
15. (U) FPU has begun working with Kingston's USCIS in the
processing of adoption cases. If the adoption case is not clearly
approvable, the IV unit now refers the case to USCIS for further
investigation. FPU continues to investigate suspect IR2 cases
based on an adoption. Post continues to see a significant number
of adoption cases where the applicant was adopted close to his/her
sixteenth birthday. Jamaica has a tradition of informal adoptions,
which makes it difficult for Jamaican applicants to establish their
eligibility as orphans under U.S. immigration law. However, the
applicant's prospective parents may still successfully adopt the
child pursuant to Jamaican family law and procedures.
16. (U) Kingston often requests applicants to undergo DNA testing
because their father's name is either not on the birth certificate
at all, or was added many years after their birth. In many cases,
these fathers have never lived with their children or played a role
in their lives until they go to immigrate. Approximately 10
percent of all cases where DNA is done resulted in no biological
relationship. This percentage does not include those applicants
that choose to abandon their case rather than undergo DNA testing.
FP is currently working with the Immigrant Visa Unit to update its
DNA procedures as a result of the processing changes.
17. (U) Post's DHS/USCIS Officer-in-Charge reported no asylum cases
for the period of March 2009 - August 2009.
18. (SBU) FPU continues to work closely with law enforcement
counterparts within the embassy and maintain a monthly
collaboration meeting to foster greater information sharing.
Organized crime and terrorist travel are addressed in conjunction
with several law enforcement agencies at post and include FPU and
ARSO-I on issues as they arise. Of particular interest was the
arrest of Stephen Fray, the Jamaican who attempted to hijack a
Canadian airliner at Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport
on April 19. We actively collect data from the U.S. law
enforcement agencies at post (U.S. Marshals, DEA, ICE and the
Jamaican authorities through NAS) to create new CLASS entries on
persons extradited to the United States; deported back to Jamaica
from the United States; apprehended by ICE in the United States;
and arrested in Jamaica for offenses here. We also actively comb
the Jamaican news media to create CLASS entries or supplement
existing ones. From March-August 2009, FPU has added 2,555 entries
to CLASS. Another FPU initiative is the compilation of data on
applicants who are confirmed dead for cancellation of their NIVs.
This is being done to prevent travelers from impersonating dead
19. (SBU) In addition to supporting DS, ICE and the U.S. Attorney
in the Robinson/Gordon prosecution, Kingston FPU and RSO
coordinated efforts to arrest a former visa applicant (Courtney
Rhoden) who picked up the visa and passport of an applicant (Omain
Harriott)by presenting a letter to DHL (our courier passback
contractor)stating that he had been given authorization to pick up
the passport. When Mr. Harriott went to DHL to pick up his
passport, he learned that it had been already picked up by Mr.
Rhoden, whom he does not know. DHL representatives came to the
embassy and discussed how to tighten the procedures so that this
would never happen again. RSO notified Jamaican police who then
arrested the Mr. Rhoden.
20. (SBU) FPU revoked the visa of a contact of the
Political/Economic Section (Ms. Karen Cross)who used her
relationship with Post to assist unqualified applicants procure
visas through the referral system. Ms. Cross requested that the P/E
Section process referrals on behalf of otherwise unqualified
applicants under the pretext that they were meeting with a
congressman in the United States. Analysis shows that the
applicants did not follow a set schedule and did not travel as a
delegation. At least one applicant has attempted to adjust status
in the United States and DHS has not recorded a return trip for
three of the other applicants.
21. (U) Document forgers, corrupt government officials and poor law
enforcement assist alien smuggling rings operating in the country.
The incidence of suspected fraud in many government agencies is
high. The Jamaican government (GOJ) has issued a secure passport,
but issuance procedures are poor and a new identity complete with a
GOJ issued passport continues to be easy to obtain, once the
individual provides a birth certificate and a photographic
22. (U) FPU continues to have a positive working relationship with
the Jamaican Registrar General's Department (RGD) verifying civil
documents. All cases involving altered RGD documents continue to
be referred to the RGD's fraud department, regardless of whether
the fraud would result in potential visa ineligibilities. This new
system allows the RGD to attempt to pinpoint the sources of these
fraudulent documents, thereby resulting in the arrests of the
responsible individuals.
23. (U) FPU continued our public outreach efforts with airlines and
immigration officers training in May and trained 108 participants.
In June, FPU coordinated with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
team to train approximately 104 airline representatives on the
detection of fraudulent documents, facial recognition and U.S.
travel document requirements.
24. (SBU) Cooperation with our colleagues at the British and
Canadian High Commissions is one of FPU's highest priorities. All
three Missions face common fraud threats, so it is clear that we
can each target fraud more effectively through communication and
information sharing. FPU attended a conference at the British High
Commission with fraud officers from the French and Germany
Embassies, and from the British and Canadian High Commissions. The
conference focused on information sharing and fraud trends. The
British High Commission presented an overview of the Third Country
Nationals that they are seeing in Jamaica as well as their risk
profiling system (similar to our validation studies). They also
shared with the group a new fraud ring involving informal importers
("higglers") with travel to China who are actually smuggling drugs.
FPU collaborative efforts with the Canadian High Commission
resulted in misrepresentation by this NIV applicant, whose Canadian
was altered and security feature of this visa intercepted by
Canadian authorities in the passport of another traveler.
25. (SBU) As a result of the economic downturn, post has witnessed
increasing H2B petitioner malfeasance cases. In particular we have
seen several illegal visa swapping schemes in which a company that
has a valid petition sells some slots to a company that does not.
We have also seen petitioners submitting petitions for jobs in the
United States to which the presumed employer did not enter into an
agreement with the petitioner and does not have available jobs or
submitting a petition that ends within three months of the visa
issuance, while promising applicants they will file an extension on
their behalf for a fee. FPU is also involved in checking for
fraudulent MRV receipts from Paymaster, Kingston's previous
off-site fee collection agent.
26. (U) The Fraud Prevention Operations Officer position has been
filled by Kristina Hayden, replacing Katherine Rafaniello who
rotated back to NIV in September. Melissa Bishop remains as the
Fraud Prevention Manager, in addition to her duties as the Deputy
Chief of the Visa Unit, with primary responsibility for NIV
operations. David Rainsberger joined FPU as the new Assistant
RSO-I, replacing Vaughn Mosely. The newly created FSN 08 position
was filled and the newly created FSN-09 position should be filled
shortly. Kingston hosted Ms. Sharon Smith, FSN from Hamilton,
Bermuda for a week (May 11-15). Ms. Smith observed our LES and
officers, specifically reviewing our IV split interview procedures
and incorporated what she learned here in Hamilton's FP operations.
Kingston's FPU is awaiting construction of its new more private and
more secure office suite in an area of the Consular Section that
was erroneously designated for GSO storage from the time Post
occupied its New Embassy Compound in December 2006.
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