Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Tallinn: 3rd Quarter 2008
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTL #0243/01 1980552
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160552Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0708
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 3090
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TALLINN 000243
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: 3rd QUARTER 2008
REF: A) 07 TALLINN 938 B) 07 TALLINN 759 C)07 STATE 83571
1. COUNTRY CONDITIONS: Initial estimates indicate Estonia's economic
growth has slowed significantly in FY08, causing some alarm among
economic analysts and the general public. That said, labor shortages
continue to 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
steadily, although a new regulation in Russian law, allowing
stateless passport holders from Estonia to travel visa-free to
Russia, may slow this process.
In the first half of FY08, 92.5 percent of Posts' NIV applicants
held Estonian passports, 2.7 percent stateless alien passports, 3.6
percent Russian passports, and just over one percent passports from
some other country. Estonia has issued machine-readable passports
since February 2002, a photo-digitized 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 relatively
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.
(SBU) NB: As of March 30, 2008 Estonia is a fully integrated member
of the Schengen area. The transition has passed smoothly, though
some, including GoE and EU officials, worry that a lack of human
capital in the Border services will undermine the country's ability
to police its borders.
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, Post has encountered a handful
of applicants trying to enter under false pretenses by using
illegitimate contact data.
In particular, Post has noted a high incidence of fraud among
applicants using contact addresses and phone numbers from Brooklyn,
NY and invariably scrutinizes individuals making use of them. One
applicant recently utilized a false contact name and phone number
linked to the "Costone" fraud scheme which is prevalent in Ukraine.
It is not clear if the individual whose phone number was used,
Mikhail Dakhe, is linked to the scheme.
Moreover, while no fraud has thus far been detected, it is notable
that Post has witnessed a surge in Indian citizen applicants (6), in
the third quarter of FY08.
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
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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
(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 third quarter of 2008 during the visit of a DHS
Initial Designation Review Team. The team visited in early April
and upon leaving, expressed a favorable view of its findings
relative to Estonia's customs and border infrastructure.
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.