Search

 

Cablegate: Dakar Fraud Summary - Second Quarter Fy2008

VZCZCXRO8190
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0529/01 1290735
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080735Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0442
INFO RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0917
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 DAKAR 000529

DEPT FOR CA/FPP
DEPT PASS TO KCC
PARIS FOR DHS/ICE
ECOWAS POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGERS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD CPAS CMGT ASEC KSTC KCOR SG
SUBJECT: DAKAR FRAUD SUMMARY - SECOND QUARTER FY2008

REF: A. 07 STATE 171211
B. 07 STATE 2417

1. Following is Embassy Dakar's quarterly fraud reporting cable for
the second quarter of FY 2008. Responses are keyed to Ref A.

2. A. COUNTRY CONDITIONS: Senegal is a secular republic with a
strong presidency, weak legislature, a compliant judiciary, and
multiple weak political parties. The country is predominantly rural
with limited natural resources. Between 60 and 70 percent of the
Senegalese workforce relies on agriculture, either directly or
indirectly, to earn a living. In 2007, Snegal recorded an
estimated five percent growth rate, but its economy is highly
vulnerable to varitions in rainfall and fluctuations in world
commdity prices. As a result, increasing numbers of yung
enegalese are moving to the cities to seek mployment. With a 45
percent unemployment rate (nd a very high underemployment rate),
many Seneglese seek work opportunities in the U.S. and Europ. In
2007, over 30,000 Africans - including man Senegalese - attempted
to migrate to Europe via clandestine fishing boats bound for Spain's
Canary Islands.

Reports during the previous quarter indicate possibly serious food
shortages in rural Senegal. While food supplies remain normal in
Dakar and other big cities, increasing prices for imported food and
basic commodities are having a negative impact on the disposable
income of the urban working class and poor. For Senegal, which is
heavily dependent on imports, high and increasing international
prices for cereals such as rice and wheat will exacerbate problems
of access to affordable food. On March 30, two Senegalese consumer
associations organized a demonstration against this steady rise of
costs, a demonstration that was forcefully broken up by riot police.
On April 26, more than 1,000 people also marched through central
Dakar to protest rising food costs. President Wade has announced
new programs to address concerns about food supplies and prices and
has claimed that there will not be famine in Senegal. International
organizations continue to closely monitor the situation.

In 2007, formal sector remittances from Senegalese living and
working overseas were estimated at almost USD 1 billion, and the
flow of money to Senegal through informal channels is estimated to
equal or surpass that amount. A single Senegalese worker in Europe
or the U.S. can provide significant disposable income for an
extended family, or even a small village. Consequently, many young
adults are encouraged to emigrate illegally by heads of household or
community leaders.

There is growing concern that high volumes of illegal narcotics are
transiting through West Africa, perhaps including Senegal. This
dynamic also raises concerns about increasing levels and
sophistication of corruption, money laundering, and other financial
crimes which could exacerbate consular-related fraud in the region.

Dakar is a high fraud post. Senegal serves as a regional airline
hub for West Africa, has daily direct flights to New York,
Washington, and Atlanta, and is used by many West Africans to
transit to the U.S. Airport and airline officials frequently
intercept travelers with legitimate documents, but whose identities
they question.

It is easy in Senegal to obtain fraudulent civil documents, such as
false birth and marriage certificates. Senegalese are also able to
easily obtain genuine documents, including Senegalese passports,
using false identities. Imposters with authentic travel documents
are a recurring problem.

In general, Senegalese place a high value on extended kinship
networks. It is common for families to take in their nieces and
nephews and to treat these children as their own. Affluent family
members are expected to share their wealth, influence, and
opportunities with all those who ask. Many Senegalese, including
wealthy ones, view travel to the U.S. as an opportunity to earn
money to send home and/or obtain free medical care. The obligation
to family and friends trumps all other obligations in the Senegalese
value system. Many Senegalese see nothing wrong with submitting a
fraudulent visa application or with assisting a family member or
friend with a fraudulent application.

B. NONIMMIGRANT (NIV) FRAUD: The most common type of NIV fraud
involves applicants submitting fraudulent documents as part of their
B1/B2 visa applications. These documents include false bank
statements, invitation letters, employment letters, hotel
reservations, and passport stamps. The quality of the fraudulent
documents is generally poor and, therefore, relatively easy to
detect. Consular officers routinely refuse these cases under INA
section 214(b) rather than refer them to the Fraud Prevention Unit

DAKAR 00000529 002 OF 005


(FPU).

NIV applicants often obtain genuine, but backdated Senegalese
immigration entry and exit stamps in order to cover up previous
overstays in the U.S. or to create fraudulent travel histories. As
a result, adjudicating officers must carefully scrutinize applicants
with previously issued NIVs. We have recently seen fake Chinese and
Indian visas as well; however, they were of very poor quality and
easy to detect. Applicants often present passports with fake entry
and exit stamps from Dubai, Morocco, Senegal, and - increasingly -
China.

Post has encountered several genuine Senegalese passports issued
with false biodata. Interviewing officers refused all these cases
under INA section 214(b), and discovered the identity fraud upon
reviewing the subsequent IDENT check. A significant number of these
cases involve applicants who were first refused an NIV using a
Gambian identity. Ref B describes this trend in detail.

Post also sees a number of unqualified applicants added to
legitimate delegations or performance groups.

Senegal has seen few indications of terrorist and criminal
activities.

C. IMMIGRANT VISA (IV) FRAUD: Post processes IVs and Fiance Visas
(K1 Visas) for the following countries: The Gambia, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Post
processes Asylee/Refugee Following-to-Join family members (V92/93)
for residents of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. Adjudicating officers
refer approximately 40 percent of these applications to the FPU. Of
the cases referred to the FPU, approximately 50 percent involve
fraud.

Relationship fraud is rampant in IV and K1 applications. In all
seven countries listed above, applicants can easily obtain genuine
civil documents with false information. As a result, DNA testing is
often the only means to confirm a biological relationship. In
addition, the FPU conducts extensive interviews, CCD and LexisNexis
checks, document verifications, and field investigations. The FPU
often relies on other posts to conduct field investigations.

Some CR1 and K1 applicants attempt to hide previous marriages to
someone other than the petitioner, either by representing themselves
as single or by producing false divorce certificates. Fraud by
applicants claiming to be single can sometimes be detected when a
spouse is indicated in a previous NIV application. Those with false
divorce documents often fail to terminate a marriage with an African
spouse before petitioning for entry based on a relationship with an
American spouse or fiance. This is particularly problematic in this
region, where polygamous marriages are common.

An added wrinkle to this trend is the difficulty of determining the
validity of a previous marriage - and thus whether the current
marriage constitutes bigamy - when the only evidence for that
marriage is the beneficiary's prior NIV application form. Our
applicants often assert that the "NIV marriage" was invented in
order to improve their "ties" at the time, but that they were not,
in fact, previously married. This leaves us in the difficult
position of looking for proof of the legal termination of a marriage
which the beneficiary claims never occurred.

Post rarely sees fraud by applicants for employment-based IVs.

Many IV and K1 applicants attempt to hide previous overstays in the
U.S. by obtaining genuine, but backdated entry and exit stamps from
Senegalese immigration officials. It is very easy to obtain genuine
backdated entry and exit stamps, with some Senegalese immigration
officials providing them free of charge as a favor to friends and
family. As a result, adjudicating officers cannot rely on
Senegalese entry and exit stamps as evidence of travel to and from
the U.S.

In the second quarter of FY2008, Post returned 88 petitions to USCIS
for review with the recommendation that they be revoked. In the
first quarter of FY2008, 40 petitions were returned.

D. DV FRAUD: DV applicants frequently present forged high school
degrees or falsified work records to qualify for DV status. Because
the issuance of Baccalaureates (the Senegalese high school
equivalent) is strictly controlled, the majority of forged and
counterfeit documents are easily detected.

Other DV applicants claim to be newly married after being notified
that they were selected to continue the DV process. In three cases
this quarter from Guinea, the DV winner married within two weeks of

DAKAR 00000529 003 OF 005


notification. In two of these cases, the applicants married a pair
of sisters that had previously been refused NIVs.

Post has been unable to verify the authenticity of Gambian documents
because the Gambian government charges a fee to verify documents.
As a result, it has been difficult to verify educational credentials
submitted by Gambian DV winners. DV applications from Guinea also
pose special problems; all requests for baccalaureate verifications
that have been sent to Guinea have been positively verified. In
addition, some Guinean DV applicants present an attestation of
examination results rather than the actual bacclaureate diploma
itself. As a result, Post takes greater care to interview these
applicants thoroughly to confirm that their level of knowledge is
consistent with their claimed education. Recently, Post has also
been able to verify recent baccalaureates online, although this
service is limited to only those receiving their degrees during the
past school year. Guinea appears to be making progress in
controlling and making transparent true recipients of the
baccalaureate.

In the first half of FY2008, post issued 21 DV1s and their families,
and refused 25 cases. 12 of these were refused under INA Section
212(a)(5)(A)during the initial interview, and 9 were referred to the
FPU for further investigation.

E. ACS AND PASSPORT FRAUD: The most common form of passport fraud
encountered is the attempt to document imposter Senegalese children
as American citizens. During the first two quarters of FY2008, no
applications for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) were
refused due to a false claim of a biological relationship by an
American citizen. However, DNA testing was recommended and has not
yet been performed in 5 cases (13 percent of CRBA applications in
the first half of FY2008). This is roughly the same percentage as
was seen in FY2007.

In FY08 Post denied a passport application as the child applicant
was born to a diplomat dependent who was listed on the Blue List.

F. ADOPTION FRAUD: While post processes IVs for adopted orphans
from seven West Africa countries, most of our adoption cases
originate in Sierra Leone. Adoption fraud is rampant in Sierra
Leone. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's
Affairs determines whether a child is adoptable and provides a
written recommendation to the High Court of Sierra Leone. The
Ministry appears to have no guidelines for making these
determinations and has done little to force orphanages to adopt
transparent procedures for selecting children who should be eligible
to be adopted abroad. Although Sierra Leonian law requires the
Ministry to investigate the whereabouts of biological parents
alleged to have disappeared, the Ministry appears not to do so.

Sierra Leone birth and identity documents are extremely unreliable.
As a result, Freetown's local fraud investigator has to interview
individuals in villages to confirm factual information.

Since April 2005, the Mission has requested that the U.S. Embassy
in Freetown conduct field investigations when an orphan adoption
case has one or more fraud indicators. In the majority of these
cases, the investigation has revealed that the children were not
orphans. In several cases, birth parents were not aware their
children were being adopted, or they believed their children were
going to the U.S. for education and would return at age 18.

G. USE OF DNA TESTING: Post uses DNA testing most frequently in
IR2, family preference IVs, V92s, and CRBA cases. Legitimate
documents based on fraudulent information are easily obtained, and
therefore we cannot rely heavily on local birth certificates. Panel
physicians in Dakar collect DNA samples locally, and the results are
sent directly to us.

H. ASYLUM AND OTHER DHS BENEFITS FRAUD: Most of post's V92/93 cases
involve applicants from Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Guinea and
Liberia. Relationship fraud is rampant, and DNA is often requested
to confirm the relationship.

Embassy Dakar sees a steady stream of applicants who claim to have
lost their I-551s (Green Cards). In many of these cases, the FPU
has established that the applicants had abandoned their legal
permanent residence status by remaining outside of the U.S. for more
then one year.

When airport security suspects a passenger of document-related
fraud, they will deny boarding and report the incident to the
consular section. These passengers then appear at Post to request
that the Embassy authenticate their refugee travel documents or
green cards. In one such case this quarter, a woman who had been

DAKAR 00000529 004 OF 005


denied boarding claimed to have lost her green card and presented a
questionable I-551 stamp in an alleged Spanish passport. After
further research, the woman admitted that the stamp and passport
were counterfeit, then produced a Cuban passport and requested
asylum. She eventually accepted a referral to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees.

I. ALIEN SMUGGLING, TRAFFICKING, ORGANIZED CRIME, TERRORIST
TRAVEL:
Post has seen little hard evidence of alien smuggling or trafficking
among visa applicants. While there are terrorist groups and
organized crime in the region, this does not appear to effect our
consular operations.

J. HOST COUNTRY PASSPORT, IDENTITY DOCUMENTS,AND CIVIL REGISTRY:
At the end of December 2007, the Senegalese authorities began
issuing regular passports containing an electronic chip. The
consular section has not yet received an official exemplar, but has
seen the passports regularly this quarter. Senegal issues four
types of passports: regular, diplomatic and official (passeport de
service), and a special passport that is used exclusively for the
Hajj (passeport pour le pelerinage). There are at least two
iterations of each passport that are currently valid and in
circulation. Regular, diplomatic, and official passports all contain
32 pages and an image of the Senegalese seal that is only visible
under ultraviolet light. All passports have separate book numbers
and passport numbers. A basic description of each passport
follows:

Regular passports: From 2002 to 2007, Senegal issued biometric
passports. These passports have a dark green cover and light green
pages with depictions of African animals and a baobab tree
watermark, and are usually valid for four years. The biodata page
is on page 2. The cover has a gold seal of Senegal that includes a
lion and a baobab tree. The passport should contain a stamp on page
3 showing that the fee had been paid, and this should be stamped and
signed by a police official. The new electronic passports are
maroon and feature the same seal on the front. The biodata page is
on the inside of the front cover and is covered with a hologram that
says "Republique du Senegal" on the top and includes a series of
baobab trees, a turtle, and the Senegalese seal. The interior pages
are blue at the top and bottom and fade to a pink color in the
middle, include a number of small baobab trees and a watermark on
each page that is consistent with the front cover. Post will send
an exemplar to CA/FPP as soon as one is available. Prior to the
green biometric passport, Senegal issued a blue non-biometric
passport with gold lettering on the cover. This passport allowed
for handwritten extensions to be entered on its fifth page.
Although at the beginning of 2007 some Senegalese missions abroad
were still extending these passports, the Senegalese government has
ended this practice. Beginning this quarter, we should no longer
see any valid blue non-biometric passports.

Diplomatic passports: From 1997 to 2002, Senegal issued dark blue
diplomatic passports with a round seal on the front depicting a
baobab tree. The pages were cream colored with red and brown threads
that formed a sunburst pattern around a lion watermark. These
passports were handwritten and valid for one year, with the
possibility of multiple annual renewals. The bearer's photo was
glued on page 5 and covered with a thin laminate that was dry sealed
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Similar to the handwritten
Senegalese regular passports that are no longer valid, because
diplomatic passports must be renewed yearly, these non-biometric
diplomatic passports should no longer be in circulation. Around
2002, the government also started issuing biometric diplomatic
passports that are blue. These newer, biometric passports are still
currently in use. Diplomatic passports are often issued to
non-diplomats, such as prominent business owners and their families
and religious leaders. For example, a recent news story alleged
that a number of Senegalese religious leaders received diplomatic
passports in advance of the March 2007 Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) Summit that took place in Senegal. Post carefully
interviews B1/B2 applicants holding diplomatic passports to
determine visa eligibility.

Official passports: From 1997 to 2002, Senegal issued brown official
passports with a round seal on the front with a baobab tree. The
pages were cream colored with brown threads forming a sunburst
pattern around a lion watermark. These passports were handwritten
and valid for one year, with the possibility of multiple annual
renewals. The bearer's photo was glued on page 5 and covered with a
thin laminate that was dry sealed by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Similar to the handwritten Senegalese regular passports
that are no longer valid, because official passports must be renewed
yearly, these non-biometric official passports should no longer be
in circulation. Around 2002, the government also started issuing

DAKAR 00000529 005 OF 005


biometric official passports that have a reddish brown cover. These
newer, biometric passports are still currently in use.

Hajj passports: These one-year, reddish passports are rarely forged
by Senegalese and are used exclusively for travel to Mecca. As such,
they are very short (fewer than 10 pages). The passport includes a
photo that is glued on and covered with laminate.

Genuine documents with false information, including marriage, death,
and birth certificates, and passports are all easily obtained. Fake
documents are easily obtained as well, but are usually of poor
quality and can be identified due to inconsistent paper quality,
inconsistencies apparent in the document's information, and the
"official" stamp. Post has seen several cases of applicants with
valid passports that are either based on false biodata (i.e. based
on a fake birth certificate) or inconsistent biodata (i.e. benign
variations in name and/or date of birth). In 2006, Senegal began to
produce national identity cards that include an electronically
scanned photo. All Senegalese were compelled to apply for the new
cards, and anyone claiming to be Senegalese should be able to
produce this card if he or she has been in Senegal since 2006.

K. COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES: The host
government cooperates well in fraud matters and requests for
document verifications. However, because of the high incidence of
fraud, post always submits "blind" verification requests, providing
authorities with only a minimum of data on the document and
requesting that the authorities provide the rest. Senegalese
authorities do not always have the ability to verify documents due
to the incompleteness of records.

Not all forms of visa fraud are regarded as serious offenses in
Senegal, and even government officials are at times willing to use
their positions to help friends and relatives obtain visas. While
the GOS does prosecute serious perpetrators, particularly foreign
scam artists, it will often drop criminal charges if the perpetrator
pays restitution to his/her victims.

L. AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN: K-1, CR-1, and IR-1 visa fraud are
very common in Senegal. Almost 80 percent of K1 applicants are
referred to the FPU for investigation, and approximately 30 percent
are returned to the Department of Homeland Security with a
recommendation for revocation. Advance fee fraud and dating scams
are common in Senegal and post regularly receives emails or calls
from Amcits who have fallen victims of the scam.

M. STAFFING AND TRAINING:

1) Yvane K. Clark, Consular Associate, full-time Fraud Unit
Coordinator. She attended the following training courses in 2007:
the All-Africa Fraud Prevention Conference (Ghana), Fraud Prevention
for Consular Managers (FSI), and an FBI-sponsored Interviewing
Techniques Workshop (Cape Verde).

2) Moussa Sy, Locally Engaged Staff, part-time Local Fraud
Investigator. FSN Fraud Prevention Course (PC-542, FSI, Nov. 2007)

3) James Loveland, Consular Section Chief, part-time Fraud
Prevention Manager (FPM). No formal fraud prevention training.

SMITH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC