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Cablegate: Fraudulent Document Ring Shut Down with Lightning Speed

VZCZCXRO7428
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0642 3381259
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031259Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8750
INFO RHEFHLC/DHS WASHDC
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9904
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8933
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 4248
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0064

UNCLAS SAO PAULO 000642

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP, INL/HSTC, WHA/BSC, DS/CR/OCI
DEPT ALSO PASS TO KCC

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED-PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS ASEC BR
SUBJECT: FRAUDULENT DOCUMENT RING SHUT DOWN WITH LIGHTNING SPEED

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 13, 2008, a joint Fraud Prevention
Unit (FPU)/Assistant Regional Security Officer Investigator (ARSO-I)
investigation resulted in the arrest of four members of a fraudulent
document ring in Sorocaba, Brazil (Note: Sorocaba is a city of
557,500 located 80 miles to the east of Sao Paulo. End Note.)
Police have filed charges against the four for fraud, falsification
of public and private documents, formation of an organized crime
group, and selling packages of fake supporting documents in
furtherance of fraudulently obtaining non-immigrant U.S. visas. If
convicted on all charges, they could each face up to five years in
prison. The leader of the group is in the United States and will
face charges if/when he returns to Brazil. A/RSO-I is coordinating
with liaison in the United States to arrange his return. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) On October 9, 2008, a consular section officer at the Sao
Paulo Consulate General requested FPU assistance in examining the
supporting documents of an applicant and his wife. FPU confirmed
the documents were fraudulent and that the claimed employer was
fictitious. FPU then ran Consular Consolidated Database Text
Searches on the information from the two applications, discovering
16 approved and 22 refused associated cases. (Note: Sao Paulo's
overall refusal rate is five percent. The refusal of nearly 60
percent of these applicants indicates the overall quality of the
documents and/or the fabricated story was poor. End note.) Using
the Department of Homeland Security's Arrival-Departure Information
System (ADIS) it was determined that all but one of the 16 issued
had already traveled to the United States.

3. (SBU) FPU then phoned the one applicant in possession of a valid
visa who remained in Brazil. During the conversation, the applicant
confessed to having purchased the supporting documents she had
presented at her interview - tax documents, pay stubs, bank
documents, and fake certification of employment in the
government-issued Work Booklet - for approximately USD 750 and
identified the vendor. The applicant subsequently went to the
Brazilian police in Sorocaba and provided a statement. The case was
then passed to the A/RSO-I for further action.

4. (SBU) A/RSO-I meetings with the Civil Police Chief in Sorocaba
led to the case being accepted by Sao Paulo State Prosecutors from
the Organized Crime Group (GAECO). GAECO obtained judicial
authorization for wiretaps which provided sufficient information for
the police to issue arrest warrants for the travel agency owner and
his associates, as well as authorization to search the
Sorocaba-based Universal and Ello travel agencies and a complicit
accountant's office. On November 13, Civil Police in Sorocaba
simultaneously executed the warrants, searching the offices, seizing
computers and other evidence, and arresting four individuals.

5. (SBU) The four individuals arrested are:

ACIRA APARECIDA DE SOUZA, Package vendor
EDSON LUIZ DE LIMA NUNES, Document producer
ALESSANDRA ARRUDA, ELLO owner
ANDREA GONZAGA DOS SANTOS, Document producer

The individual identified as leading the group, Sandro Alex de
Oliveira, is currently in the United States, having arrived August
18, 2008 on a B-2 tourist visa. A/RSO-I will work with the
appropriate U.S. authorities to locate De Oliveira in the United
States and return him to Brazil, at which time Brazilian police
intend to arrest him.

6. (SBU) A review of the applications and issuance and refusal notes
established a general profile for the scheme. The majority of
applicants were 25-40 years of age and presented themselves as newly
or about-to-be-married, intending to honeymoon in Orlando. The male
often claimed to be an owner/manager of a car dealership and the
female claimed to be an owner/salesperson in a clothing/jewelry
store. They had no prior travel and little beyond a high school
education.

7. (SBU) Comment: The speed with which this case moved (only a
little over a month from discovery to conclusion) is an indication
of the strong cooperative relations between the Consulate General
and local authorities. FPU and A/RSO-I will continue to investigate
the scope of the group's operations as the Brazilian police pass on
further client lists seized in the operation. FPU will provide
lessons-learned training to adjudicating officers in order to help
them better identify potential fraud of this nature. End Comment.


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