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Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Lagos First Quarter 2008

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHOS #0159/01 1260744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050744Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9888
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9602
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0413

UNCLAS LAGOS 000159

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR CA/FPP, AF/W, KCC, DS/ICI/OCI, DS/IP/AF


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CMGT ASEC NI
SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY - LAGOS FIRST QUARTER 2008

REF: 07 STATE 171211

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COUNTRY CONDITIONS
------------------

1. Background: Nigeria covers 356,669 sq miles and has a
population of approximately 144 million. The major languages are
English (official), Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. Approximately 60% of
the population is below the poverty line for Nigeria. The current
GDP is 1,500 dollars, and the inflation rate is 8.2%. This high
poverty rate, coupled with the population pressures, induces
large-scale migration.

2. Nigeria has very limited internal controls over the issuance of
documents, to include passports. The lack of controls and a high
incidence of bribery that permeates every level of society create an
environment where anything and everything is available and for sale.
With enormous hunger for visas as an escape route, documents that
cannot be trusted, and security situations that make travel
difficult, Lagos is a high-fraud post.

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NIV FRAUD
---------

3. The NIV unit continues to see fraudulent documents submitted to
create the impression of an established travel history. NIV
officers have encountered many different varieties of fake visas -
Schengen, Canadian, Chinese, Indian, South African, and so forth -
along with hand-carved entry and exit stamps, all intended to
bolster a weak or non-existent travel history. After the NIV
officers make their determinations in these cases, the ARSO/I
frequently speaks with the applicants regarding their document
supplier and then hands them over to the Nigerian police.

4. Post's ARSO/I recently aided the Nigerian police in the exposure
and arrest of a counterfeit visa producer. The Italian Consulate
contacted the ARSO/I about a suspect Nigerian passport that had a
U.S. Teslin foil visa issued in it. As the bearer of the passport
was being escorted to the U.S. Consulate, a man claiming to be her
brother followed, and he was asked to accompany her. Through
questioning it became clear that he was not her brother, but rather
the man who supplied her with the photosubbed passport. They both
were turned over to the police, and after questioning the man led
the ARSO/I and the Nigerian police to the counterfeiter. They
uncovered and seized a large number of fake Schengen visas of
surprisingly high quality, as well as some Canadian visas and a U.K.
passport in the process of being doctored.

5. IAFIS results have revealed previously-undisclosed criminal
histories. Applicants who were arrested for and convicted of
controlled substance violations in the 1980s and early 1990s have in
some instances been issued multiple nonimmigrant visas in the
interim despite their permanent ineligibilities because there was no
record in the CLASS system. IAFIS has enabled post to detect these
people and deny them the visas for which they are not eligible.

6. R1 religious worker visas continue to be a point of concern. In
the case of large religious groups such as the Catholic Church,
there are established organizations with which we can work to verify
the claims of applicants in Nigeria and the receiving church in the
United States. Smaller churches, such as the evangelical sects,
present more of a problem when it comes to authenticating documents
and membership. The ongoing investigation by DHS into the Redeemed
Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Texas has meant that officers have
been refusing R1 applicants for that organization under 221g pending
the outcome. Since beginning this practice, post has seen
applicants for other petition-based NIVs, mostly H1Bs, who are going
to work for consulting and accounting firms whose clients include
the RCCG; post has refused these applicants under 221g as well.

--------
IV FRAUD
--------

7. The bulk of the FPU's resources are devoted to unearthing fraud
for IV and DV cases. FPU conducts field investigations to verify
the validity of submitted documents and claimed relationships. FPU
investigators have built up a stable of trustworthy contacts in
various regions of the country over the years. These have proven an
invaluable resource, as Nigeria is a country where the public
officials themselves are often implicated in the deception, whether
through ignorance of their own laws or through actual corruption.


8. F-1 unmarried adult children of American citizens continue to be
a source of fraud investigations. Field visits by our investigators
routinely find purportedly unmarried F-1s living with a spouse and
children. Applicants also attempt to thwart our efforts at a field
investigation by providing false contact information, which
unfortunately adds to the duration of the investigation.

9. IR-2 stepchildren also present a challenge. The typical case
involves a parent who travels to the United States on a visitor visa
and then divorces the Nigerian spouse shortly after traveling or in
some cases shortly before departure. The parent finds an American
citizen spouse, whom they marry to adjust status, and then the
American citizen petitions for the children in Nigeria as
stepchildren. FPU utilizes a number of tools to combat this fraud.
CCD searches show whether or not left-behind spouses have been
issued a visa themselves, while Lexis-Nexis allows us to see if the
petitioner and biological parent are listed as living together. An
FPU field investigation shows whether or not the surrounding
community is aware of the divorce, and whether or not the biological
parent in the United States is carrying on a relationship with the
left-behind.

--------
DV FRAUD
--------

10. Educational qualifications continue to be a fraud concern for
the DV. Post has found an established fraud trend wherein
applicants finish secondary school a decade before winning the DV,
and the scores for their West African Examinations Council (WAEC)
exam, usually taken at the end of their final year, are very poor.
Flash forward to the present, when they win the DV lottery and
decide to re-take the exam after some 'private tutoring.' These
scores are very strong, but when the applicant comes for his
interview he knows nothing about the subjects in which he supposedly
excelled just months before. We have had a number of applicants
confess under questioning in the FPU that they had assistance in
completing the exam; in some cases, they were assisted by a fellow
test taker. More alarmingly, in some cases they claim the test
proctor read off the correct answers. In such instances the
documents are good and, were we to verify them, would be found
legitimate, but the applicants have no claim to the scores on them.

11. Lagos also sees a large number of 'clip-ons,' spouses acquired
after entering the DV lottery. Many of these prove to be fraudulent
relationships. While FPU conducts some field visits to determine
the validity of relationships, in many cases a simple split
interview in the FPU offices suffices to verify relationships.

12. Lagos has recently encountered cases that confirm our long-held
suspicion that there exist entrepreneurs in Nigeria who act as
full-service diversity visa fixers, from filling out the initial
entry form to preparing the document package to coaching for the
actual interview, along the way clipping on spouses to previously
single entrants to increase revenue.

13. In one recent case, a female applicant entered the DV as single.
When she was scheduled for an interview and her case file received
at post, it showed that she was married and included a marriage
certificate and a DS-230 for her spouse. It also had an extra
DS-230 for her, stamped as received at KCC four days after her own
DS-230, with a different photograph and different names for her
parents. When the applicant was called to the window, she
maintained that she was not and had never been married, and she did
not recognize either of the extra photographs included in her case
file.

14. The applicant explained that she had entered the DV lottery by
filling out a paper form; a man had come to the village where she
lived and handed out the forms to everybody there. He filled his
own contact information on her entry, and when her name was
selected, her letter and form packet went to him. In order to
obtain her packet, she was forced to pay 20,000 Naira (the
equivalent of about $160) in order for him to release it to her. She
mailed her DS-230 to KCC, along with a change of address request,
and refused further contact with the visa fixer. It is clear that
the visa fixer received extra money from the 'husband' to clip him
on to this single woman's entry; when she did not cooperate, he
attempted to replace her on the entry as well.

---------
ACS FRAUD
---------

15. Financial scams - known as '419' scams after the section of the
Nigerian penal code relating to financial crime - continue to be a
huge issue for ACS. The ACS Unit receives an average of 20
inquiries daily through e-mail and telephone from American citizens
as well as citizens from other countries who have been defrauded by
Nigerians posing as romantic interests, Americans in distress, or
lawyers trying to disburse a settlement or inheritance. Some of
these American citizens have sent large sums of money to Nigeria.
Unfortunately, all we can do is refer them to the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria and the Secret Service in the
United States.

16. The U.S. passport continues to be a highly coveted document.
One recurring scenario is the first-time passport applicant who is
in his late teens. The applicant will provide a birth certificate
for a child born in the United States, as well as perhaps an infant
passport, or the passport of the purported mother with the child
endorsed in it. FPU does field investigations to verify the
identity of the applicant as that listed on the birth certificate.

17. Post also sees many applications for Consular Reports of Birth
for the children of recently-naturalized male American citizens. In
order to qualify as an American citizen from birth, a child must be
born after the American citizen has naturalized, and in some of the
applications the timing is very close. In one case, FPU
investigators went to the hospital in question to verify the
hospital documents the mother submitted as evidence of birth for the
baby. The investigators found that the registration number on the
documents was in the hospital's records for another woman; the
hospital records and birth certificate were not legitimately issued.
The parents had attempted to move the child's birth date forward in
order for him to qualify for citizenship.

--------------
ADOPTION FRAUD
--------------

18. Local courts continue to issue suspect adoption orders. In
order to be a valid adoption under Nigerian law, adoptive parents
must fulfill certain requirements, including but not limited to
three months of custody of the child prior to the adoption order, as
well as a personal appearance in court on the day the adoption is
finalized. These requirements are frequently ignored by Nigerian
courts, resulting in procedurally-invalid adoptions.

19. Starting in 2006, all adoptions coming through ConGen Lagos
went a mandatory field investigation to ensure that the laws of
Nigeria and the United States were followed during the adoption
process. Our investigators would conduct a home visit to see if the
child is living with the appointed guardian or with the biological
parents who have supposedly relinquished all parental rights, and
they go to the court registrars to see if the order was actually
issued by the court. An analysis of the order itself could show
whether or not the court followed its own procedures correctly.

20. This policy resulted in a greatly-protracted processing time
for adoption visas, and the rate of fraud uncovered was not
commensurate with the resources expended; only about 10% to 20% of
the investigations were uncovering fraud that precluded visa
issuance. Post therefore has loosened the policy to allow
interviewing officers more discretion. We have conducted training
sessions with interviewing officers and FPU investigators to help
familiarize officers with what a good adoption looks like, and what
indicators should prompt an FPU investigation. We have also created
reference documents the officers can consult at the window to help
guide their interviews. We hope that this will allow faster
processing of strong cases while at the same time freeing up FPU
resources for investigations into cases that are truly problematic.

-----------
DNA TESTING
-----------

21. DNA testing has proven an invaluable tool in the deterrence of
fraud. There are many instances where the evidence of relationship
that would allow officers to make their decisions is unreliable,
destroyed, or simply not available. Family photography, aside from
the occasional posed studio portrait, did not become widespread
until the late 1970s and early 1980s, and birth certificates have no
security features to speak of and can be obtained easily. Officers
request DNA testing fairly frequently. The samples, in the form of
cotton swabs, are collected by an IV LES at the clinic where the
required visa medical examinations are conducted. This is a duty
that is rotated around the section. The Consulate sends the samples
to the laboratory, and the notarized results are returned directly
back to the Consulate via courier.

22. Applicants who know their relationship is not bona fide, in
general, do not follow through with the DNA testing. Post has
encountered several recent cases where a principal applicant was
asked to do a DNA test with a derivative child, only for the
principal applicant to return to the Consulate and say that they
changed their mind - they don't want the child to travel after all.
As the principal applicant has by this point executed a visa
application for the derivative, a fake parent-child relationship
constitutes alien smuggling; as a result, principal applicants are
told there will be no issuance until the requested DNA testing is
completed. In some cases, the principal applicant acquiesces and
the DNA results are negative, resulting in a 6E finding. Other
principal applicants attempt to remove the problematic child by
'killing them off' on paper - bringing in a fraudulent death
certificate. FPU investigation into these documents reveals the
fraud, and the end result is still a 6E.

---------
DHS FRAUD
---------

23. We continue to receive about ten requests a week for
transportation letters from legal permanent residents who report
their green cards lost or stolen. Without DHS presence at post or
access to their database, we struggle to confirm LPR status and
determine if the LPRs have a criminal record.

24. The FPU receives and processes investigation requests from
USCIS District Adjudicating Officers (DAOs) to verify documents
submitted for many different types of petitions in the United
States, from birth and death certificates to divorce decrees. The
FPU assists with these verifications, although resources are a
constant issue. FPU always reminds the DAOs of the limitations - as
the threshold of proof for many of these documents is so low, a
positive finding regarding document authenticity is often no
guarantee that the information contained therein is at all
reliable.

-------------------------------
ALIEN SMUGGLING AND TRAFFICKING
-------------------------------

25. In both the IV and NIV section we see frequent attempts at
alien smuggling, whether through a sham marriage or the addition of
an extra child. In some cases it is merely a member of the extended
family who simply does not have a legal claim to the immigration
benefit. However, in some cases, such as the DV clip-ons, there is
a financial motivation; someone has agreed to pay in order to have
that person added to an otherwise-legitimate application.

-----------------
DS INVESTIGATIONS
-----------------

26. The consular section in general and the FPU in particular work
closely with the ARSO/I recently assigned to Lagos. Cases are
referred to the ARSO/I from IV, NIV, and ACS units, with the
referral documented in the notes for the case. The ARSO/I has aided
us in pursuing marriage fraud rings stateside through his U.S.-based
DS contacts, and here in Lagos he has been pursuing the vendors of
the fraudulent documents presented in interviews. His close working
relationship with the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian police has
resulted in the arrest of a number of fraudulent applicants.
Through spot reports he keeps the consular section informed of the
outcomes of the referred cases. The ARSO/I usually takes referrals
directly from interviewing officers regarding instances of fraud
that occur on a daily basis, while complex investigations that FPU
has conducted are referred to the ARSO/I by the FPM. ARSO/I and the
FPM have a strong working relationship and often collaborate on
interviews, investigations and training. ARSO/I and FPM also
benefit from the strong support of the Consular Chief and the
Regional Security Officer.

----------------------
HOST COUNTRY DOCUMENTS
----------------------

27. While Nigeria has recently updated its passport design to
incorporate a microchip like the U.S. E-Passport, the older design
remains valid and in circulation. It consists of a biodata page
encased in plastic, UV-reactant features, and the passport number
punched into the top edge of the inside pages.

28. The new e-passport incorporates other security features in
addition to the microchip. It includes holographic and UV-reactant
features, and each visa page in the booklet has the passport number
punched into the outside edge. It is important to note that, while
the document itself may appear more secure, the underlying process
in order to obtain the passport remains highly flawed. Applicants
for a Nigerian passport must submit a national identification card
or a birth certificate, both of which are easily obtained on the
open market, and they must submit an affidavit from a 'guarantor'
who will attest to their good character. Attempts by Nigerian
immigration to use biometrics collection to preclude passport
issuance in multiple identities are hampered by the lack of
infrastructure that would allow a passport office in one end of the
country to connect via a network to an office on the other end.
Even with the additional security features, the Nigerian passport
remains an insecure and easily obtainable document.

29. Civil documents, by contrast, have essentially no security
features. Marriage certificates vary widely in appearance; while
they follow the same basic format, each local government authority
has its own design. Marriage certificates and birth certificates
are both filled out by hand in ball point pen, and are printed on
plain white paper. These documents are incredibly easy to forge.
In addition, controls and oversight in government offices are such
that for sufficient payment a person can obtain virtually any
government document from the source. With very few exceptions,
documents are taken with a grain of salt, and without verification
by FPU that there is a corresponding entry in the logbook of the
office that supposedly issued the certificate or court order, we
consider most documents to be of very little value.

---------------------------------
COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT
---------------------------------

30. The FPU has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Nigerian
Police Department for many years, referring cases to them where
Nigerian laws have been broken. The Special Fraud Unit has aided in
the arrest of applicants who have presented fraudulent documents, as
well as tracking down the document vendors.

31. The FPU has also enjoyed years of support from local
governments, schools and marriage registries in our verifications of
documents. Lately, however, FPU investigators have been harassed by
National Population Commission to provide money for verifications,
usually 10,000 Naira, the equivalent of about 70 dollars. This is
apparently a revenue collecting scheme on the part of the National
Population Commission. In some cases, the working relationship
between the investigator and the official, with whom they have dealt
before, has meant the registrar could be persuaded to waive the fee;
many of these government officials, however, are becoming more
hard-line on this fee, making document verification a costly
prospect.

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STAFFING AND TRAINING
---------------------

32. The FPU comprises FSO Fraud Prevention Manager Jennifer White,
LES Fraud Investigator Supervisor Roma Eyen, LES Fraud Investigator
Adedamola Ajibade, LES Fraud Investigator Ijeoma Ndurue, LES
Secretary Chinyere Harry, LES Fraud Analyst Samuel Olorunsogo and

SIPDIS
LES Data Specialist Fineboy Mark. Ms. Ajibade completed the FSN
Fraud Prevention Workshop in March 2007 and Ms. Eyen attended the
regional consular FSN workshop in April 2007.

BLAIR

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