Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Tallinn: 2nd Quarter 2008
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTL #0242/01 1980551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160551Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0706
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 3088
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TALLINN 000242
DEPT FOR CA/FPP; PLEASE PASS TO KCC: POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CMGT KFRD ASEC CVIS CPAS EN
SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY - TALLINN: 2nd QUARTER 2008
REF: A) 07 TALLINN 938 B) 07 TALLINN 759 C)07 STATE 83571
1. COUNTRY CONDITIONS: Estonia's economy grew rapidly in 2007,
approximately 7.3 percent, albeit at a slower pace than expected.
Growth is predicted to fall to 4.3 percent in FY 2008. Labor
shortages exist in the country both as a result of declining birth
rates and outsourcing of Estonia's labor-pool to other parts of the
EU. Unemployment for calendar year 2007 was estimated at 5.2
percent nationally, but varied considerably from region to region,
with higher unemployment notable in the Russian-speaking, Eastern
parts of the country. In most Estonian families, both husband and
wife are employed.
A large ethnic Russian minority (about 29%) resides in Estonia.
Significant divisions between them and the Estonian majority remain,
as evidenced by the disturbances that followed the GoE's decision to
relocate a Soviet-era, World War II Memorial in April 2007 (reftel
A). Public and GOE discussion of integration issues increased
significantly immediately following the riots, and the GOE approved
the second phase of its integration strategy (2008-2013) in April.
Presently, approximately 115,000 persons in Estonia are considered
stateless and travel on Estonian-issued "alien passports", also
known as gray passports, which accord some travel privileges to EU
and Schengen countries but not the same as those guaranteed to
Estonian passports. The number of stateless persons is decreasing
Estonia has issued machine-readable passports since February 2002, a
photo-digitized passport since May 2005 and an E-passport with
biometric data chip since May 2007. Alien passports are made to the
same standard as the Estonian citizen passports.
The volume of Estonian travel to the United States is low, due
largely to the country's small population, and the relatively small
Estonian-American population in the United States. Moreover, no
direct, commercial flights exist between Estonia and the United
States. A weakening dollar, however, has made travel to the U.S.
more attractive and affordable for Estonians.
Russian and Estonian organized crime groups exist in Estonia and
members sometimes seek U.S. visas.
NB: On March 30, 2008 Estonia fully joined the Schengen area,
abolishing internal controls on all land, sea and air borders with
other Schengen zone countries. Some GoE officials have suggested
that Schengen accession will lead to an increase in Estonia's TCN
2. NIV FRAUD: No significant changes from the previous fraud
summary. Post continues to verify suspicious applicant-provided
information using various online resources, including but not
limited to Lexis-Nexis, CCD, and Estonian search mechanisms to
verify personal, financial and business information. While no
significant NIV fraud was detected at Post for January to March
2008, Post confirmed approximately 10 overstays using data from a
2006 upload to CLASS of 7500 L lookouts based on missing I-94 data.
Post has also encountered a handful of applicants trying to enter
under false pretenses by using illegitimate contact names.
Of special note, two Estonian nationals were apprehended in the
United States in March by the FBI. The individuals were using stolen
bank account information and ATM blanks to steal money from checking
accounts. The individuals obtained their visas under what appeared
to be legitimate employment and visiting friends in Brooklyn, NY.
3. IV FRAUD: To date, no fraud has been detected among IV applicants
in Tallinn. Post began full IV and DV processing in May 2007.
4. DV FRAUD: See above regarding IV fraud.
5. ACS AND PASSPORT FRAUD: None detected since previous fraud
6. ADOPTION: No change from previous fraud summary.
7. ASYLUM AND OTHER DHS FRAUD: As reported in (reftel B), Post, in
November 2007, completed processing of two VISAS-92 cases in which
it noted evidence of fraud in the petitioners own asylum application
8. COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES: Host country
security services continue to provide information about persons and
businesses with potentially criminal elements. Recently, the GoE
helped Post learn of an establishment with links to prostitution.
Additionally, the GoE continues to feed data into Post's fully
automated reporting of Estonian lost and stolen passports (reftel
TALLINN 00000242 002 OF 002
(SBU): Estonia continues its drive to enter the Visa Waiver Program
(VWP). A series of meetings took place between GoE and DHS
officials in the second quarter of 2008, culminating in February
with a visit from the Secretary of Homeland Security and the signing
of a VWP Memorandum of Understanding.
9. AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN: With Estonia now part of the
Schengen zone, there is concern that illegal immigration into
Estonia may increase as the country provides a gateway to onward
passport-free travel to the rest of the EU. There is also concern
that Third Country Nationals will try to use fraudulent Estonian
travel documents to enter other Schengen countries.
10. STAFFING AND TRAINING: The Consular Section consists of two
officers, one consular associate and two FSNs. Everyone assists with
fraud prevention work as required. Both officers have completed
PC-541 Fraud Prevention for Consular Managers. The Visa Assistant
has recently completed PC-542 FSN Fraud Prevention.