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Nigerian’s Sentencing a Warning to Immigration Fraudsters

29 February 2012

Nigerian’s Sentencing a Warning to Immigration Fraudsters

A Nigerian who unsuccessfully sought refugee status in New Zealand 10 years ago then returned a year later on a false passport faces possible deportation after being jailed for two years and three months today for passport fraud.

Jeffrey Ugochukwu Orji, 39, of Mangere East has been in New Zealand on a false identity since 2003, obtaining work visas using his false passport on the basis of partnership with New Zealand residents. He had been sentenced at the Pukekohe District Court of eight offences against the Immigration Act involving the use of a false passport and one Passport Act charge of possessing a false passport.

[He was found guilty in the Papakura District Court (last year) but sentenced today in the Pukekohe District Court.]

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says identity fraud is an ongoing issue, but the means of detecting it are continually improving.

Orji’s offending was revealed in 2009 when INZ forensic examination of the passport led to further enquiries which revealed that it was among a batch of blank Nigerian passports that had been stolen there.

“While international security standards for passports have improved over the years, the ability of criminals to obtain legitimate passports fraudulently, or produce very high quality fakes, is a real challenge for immigration and border agencies internationally,” INZ General Manager Intelligence, Risk and Integrity, Steve Stuart, says.

Improved identity management is one of the key changes introduced in the Immigration Act 2009. INZ is now able to capture, store and use biometric data, including fingerprints.

Since the Act came into force in late 2010 INZ has begun using biometric technology. This includes fingerprinting asylum claimants and people referred at the border and checking these fingerprints with international partners (Australia, the UK, US and Canada), deploying high-tech passport scanners and collecting facial biometric data.

Biometrics will be used in all immigration visa application checks when the roll-out of INZ’s new Immigration Global Management System begins next year.

Mr Stuart says Orji’s case should be a lesson to anyone contemplating lying to Immigration.

“You will be discovered and, when you are, we will take action against you. Any life you may have established in New Zealand will be in jeopardy if it is based on fraud. As in Orji’s case, any person who has obtained a visa dishonestly risks being prosecuted and will have their immigration status reviewed with a view to being deported.”

ENDS

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