Cablegate: Vientiane Fraud Summary: Q4 Fy 2007
RR RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHVN #0836/01 3181044
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141044Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1638
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 7544
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0454
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VIENTIANE 000836
STATE FOR CA/EX/FPP
STATE FOR CA/CI
STATE FOR EAP/MLS (Bestic)
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT LA
SUBJECT: VIENTIANE FRAUD SUMMARY: Q4 FY 2007
The contents of the telegram are SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED (SBU).
Please protect accordingly.
A. (U) The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a poor,
least-developed country with a single-party communist government.
The Hmong are the second largest ethnic minority in Laos, accounting
for almost 10% of the total population, but comprise an estimated
25% to 30% of our visa applicants.
With an estimated $572 per capita income, Laos is one of the poorest
countries in East Asia. Nearly 71% of the population lives on less
than $2 a day, with 23% living on less than $1 per day. Illiteracy
is about 47%. Agriculture is the major sector of the economy,
contributing 46% of the GDP and employing approximately 79% of the
population, mostly in subsistence farming. Poverty and a
totalitarian government are main contributors to fraud in Laos, as
citizens attempt to illegally emigrate permanently, or temporarily
work illegally in the United States.
The ethnic Lao population in the U.S., which is large relative to
the Lao national population, is also a draw for illegal immigration
as families attempt to reunite in the United States. The most
recent U.S. census estimated that 170,000 ethnic Lao and 170,000
ethnic Hmong currently live in the United States. The ethnic Hmong
population in the US is equal to almost 30% of the ethnic Hmong
population in Laos.
Passports and national ID cards are the only nationally issued forms
of identification, but the information on a Lao passport or ID card
cannot be accepted at face value. False or duplicate identities are
common among visa applicants. Obtaining a passport issued with a
false identity is relatively easy, in many cases not even requiring
a bribe. Laos does not have a well-established tradition of civil
documents, and, as such, there is little standardization or security
for documents such as birth or marriage certificates. Additionally,
many of these documents are issued at the village level by the
village chief, and, as such, will say generally whatever the
requestor wants them to say. Many documents submitted to the
Consular Section in support of an application for any service are
hand written. Further, forged or false business licenses, bank
books, identity cards, and household registration books are common.
Detection of altered or fraudulent documents is usually easy as
production is unsophisticated.
B.(U) NIV Fraud. Nothing new to report.
C. (U) IV Fraud: Fiance (K1) Visas. During the reporting period,
Conoffs interviewed several female Hmong K1 applicants who stated
that they had been interviewed in Laos on videotape by unnamed Hmong
men during the traditional Hmong New Year celebration (usually mid
to late November through early December). With the assistance of a
Congressional office in Minnesota, we obtained a copy of one of
these tapes that was for sale in an Asian supermarket in
Minneapolis. The tape is titled, "Hmong Girls are Waiting for You,"
apparently an annual match-making video production. The tape
consists of poor quality camerawork of a few people walking around
at the previous year's Hmong Ethnic New Year festivals and filming
random young women, asking their names and what village they were
from. Some of the women provide contact phone numbers. We have
begun to collect these names for comparison with pending and future
applications. Among the many fraud indicators in these cases are
altered household registrations and/or birth certificates. The
applicant's year of birth is usually changed to make her appear
older. In at least one case, an applicant has admitted to being
under 14 years old when meeting the petitioner but documents
presented stated she was 18. This case has been referred to the ICE
office in Bangkok for further investigation.
D. (SBU) DV Fraud: All of the six 2007 DV winners who presented
documents for interview were assisted by a Lao-American woman who
resides in Omaha, NE. The woman had not only assisted them with the
initial applications for the lottery but also filled out the visa
application forms, providing her home address as the U.S. mailing
address. A majority of the applicants presented clearly fraudulent
documents to demonstrate educational qualifications and were unable
to demonstrate bona fides to prove their claimed spousal
relationships, all of which reportedly began after the principal
applicant was selected for the DV lottery.
The broker traveled to Vientiane to resolve the pending cases in
September. During an interview with a DV applicant, she was seen
discussing unknown matters with several other visa applicants in the
waiting room. She and the DV applicants frenetically disrupted the
flow of other NIV and IV processing, interrupting several
interviews. One of her clients refused to accept the refusal of her
VIENTIANE 00000836 002 OF 002
visa application, tracked down post's senior IV LES, and went to his
house on two occasions accompanied by the broker. The applicant
attempted to bribe the LES and enlist his assistance with getting
her refusal overcome. The applicant continued to call the LES
employee on his private cell phone many times. He diligently
reported this to the Consular chief and assisted in an
During an interview with the RSO and the Consular chief, the broker
claimed to be religiously motivated by a vision to assist as many
people to emigrate to the U.S. as possible. She claims she has been
assisting person with the Diversity Visa process since 2005,
processing 200 to 300 applications each year. Being a full time
tailor, she enlisted her seven children to assist in the online
applications and paperwork processing. She claims this is all
without a fee, although she pays her children in the U.S. for
assisting her with data entry for the applications. Upon arrival,
the beneficiaries supposedly stay with her until they can make their
own living arrangements. She claims that for the 2008 DV cycle she
has 4 winners in Laos and 1 in Thailand.
The RSO and Consul have informed the broker that she is barred from
all future contact with any consular employee in the visa unit.
E. (U) ACS and Passport Fraud: Nothing new to report.
F. (SBU) Adoption Fraud. During the reporting period, the Consular
Chief spoke on several occasions with a U.S. citizen woman who
stated she is a representative of a U.S.-based non-profit church
group called Unreached Villages (see http://unreachedvillages.org).
She claims that she arrived in Laos in February 2007 with her
husband and several children and had been "given" a Lao infant by an
unnamed Lao woman, who she claims told her would "throw the baby in
the Mekong River" if she did not take the child. The US citizen
woman has filed a formal adoption application for the baby with the
Office of the Prime Minister, and stated she would file an I-600
Visa petition for the child with the USCIS office in Portland,
Oregon. She further stated that Unreached Villages hopes to open an
orphanage in Laos in the near future. While we do not doubt the
sincerity of this woman or this organization in their efforts to
assist Lao children, we are concerned about the circumstances around
the claimed incident with the child that this woman claims she is
adopting and will monitor any future cases brought to our attention
G. (U) Asylum and other DHS Benefit Fraud: Nothing new to report.
H. (U) Cooperation with the Authorities: The Consular Chief meets
regularly with his working level counterpart at the Consular
Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss Lao
passport fraud. The Visa Unit confiscates duplicate identity
passports detected during the visa interview process by the IDENT
system and returns them to MFA with biodata on the applicants and
their claimed identities.
I. Areas of Particular Concern: Nothing new to report.