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Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Kinshasa

INFO LOG-00 MFA-00 AF-00 A-00 CA-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
WHA-00 DS-00 EAP-00 DHSE-00 OIGO-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00
OBO-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 MMP-00 MOFM-00 MOF-00
CDC-00 DCP-00 NSAE-00 OCS-00 OIG-00 CAEX-00 PER-00
PPT-00 DOHS-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 MR-00 T-00
VO-00 NCTC-00 FMP-00 CBP-00 ECA-00 DSCC-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 FA-00 PESU-00 SANA-00 /000W

R 301624Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) State 57623; B) State 997431; C) Kinshasa 17;
D) Kinshasa 346

1. Per reftel A, post is updating its country fraud summary,
covering March 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009.


2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is slowly recovering
from a war begun in 1998 that led to the deaths of more than five
million persons. Conflict flares periodically in the mineral-rich
eastern part of the country, and the war's after effects continue to
hamper economic growth and the formation of stable government. Most
Congolese citizens live on less than $120 per year, and every day
Congolese citizens die as a result of preventable diseases and lack
of access to basic medical care. Approximately 70% of the
population is malnourished.

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3. Two principal challenges exist for anti-fraud work. First,
fraud and corruption are wide spread, both from applicants trying to
obtain immigration benefits and from Congolese officials trying to
supplement low salaries by selling fake civil documents or bona fide
documents based on false information. Second, government
administrative capacity, at all levels, is weak to nonexistent, and
even when government officials express interest in combating fraud,
they often lack the tools necessary to enhance transparency. Most
government offices, for example, do not have access to computers.
As a result, basic civil documents -- passports, birth certificates,
and marriage certificates - are easy to obtain: often, applicants
simply appear at a government office and pay a fee.

4. Lack of standardization of Congolese names adds an additional
challenge. Every day, the consular section sees applicants with two
or three valid passports, each with a different name. The name
"Jean Jacques Mulongo Makengo," for example, could appear as a
surname in four different ways: "Makengo;" "Mulongo Makengo;"
"Jacques Mulongo Makengo;" or even "Jean Jacques Mulongo Makengo,"
first name unknown. Congolese civil servants, in general, do not
verify biographic information, and cultural traditions allow
individuals to change names throughout their life. Mala fide
applicants exploit this custom to acquire new names in order to hide
prior refusals or ineligibilities.


5. Mala fide G-2 applicants represent the largest source of NIV
fraud. DRC officials frequently apply for visas in large groups at
the last-minute, with incomplete applications and diplomatic notes
missing essential information. In many cases, the reason for
travel has ended before the Embassy receives the NIV application.
Interviewing officers face a daily challenge of sorting genuine
officials from hangers-on. A more serious problem involves
administrative control over diplomatic notes. The Cabinet includes
more than 40 ministers, each with a separate office of protocol;
Parliament and the Presidency also have protocol offices. The
result is a flood of diplomatic notes, often for travelers who are
not officials or who are traveling for pleasure. The consular
section has met three times in the past year with the MFA's chief of
protocol, who has admitted that the MFA lacks the ability to control
the issuance of diplomatic passports, official passports, or
diplomatic notes. The Embassies of Canada, Belgium, and Great
Britain report similar problems with applications from Congolese

6. As a result, the consular section interviews all G-2 and A-2
applicants, except ministers and officials with U.S. travel in the
past two years. In March, the DRC submitted more than 250
applications for a UN conference on woman's issues. Post
interviewed one-half of the applicants and found that 30% were not
government officials; some were applying on tourist passports. The
GDRC withdrew the remaining applications. Also in March, the
consular section conducted a field investigation for three A-visa
applicants who were unable to explain the purpose of their trip.
The investigation revealed that the applicants had genuine
diplomatic notes, but none actually worked for the government. To
help reduce mala fide applications, post held an open house for all
DRC protocol offices in June, and in August, for the first time in
years, the DRC did not submit a large-number of questionable
applications for the UNGA. Post plans to continue to liaison with
other missions, hold semi-annual open houses, and interview the
majority of government officials. The consular section will also
continue to insist on complete documentation for official visas and
to decline requests for interviews after-hours.

7. In contrast to G-2 applicants, the consular section finds few
problems with G-4 applicants, and during the reporting period, post
waived the personal appearance for G-4 travelers. Post liaisons
closely with the protocol office from the UN, which provides the
lion's share of applications, many from visa waiver countries. In
April, however, post discovered a mala fide traveler using a genuine
UN diplomatic note. The UN conducted a full investigation,
discovered that the applicant's husband - a UN employee - had
acquired the note, and fired the husband. No similar incident took
place during the reporting period.

8. All B-1/B-2 applications are ripe with fake documents: false
bank statements, forged employment letters, and questionable
property deeds, but applicants who are part of a group - a church,
service organization, or business association- provide the second
largest source of mala fide applicants. In a typical pattern, the
group applies in stages, with the best qualified applying first. In
June, for example, post issued a B-1 visa to a Malian trader going
to New York. Fourteen more Malians applied in the next month for
the same purpose; all were denied. Post relies on past experience,
search engines, and contacts within the local community to determine
bona fide intent for these types of travelers. Post also maintains
an electronic fraud toolkit which includes information on how to
identify valid DRC documents, and the consular section is enrolling
all staff in FSI's online anti-fraud training. In June, post
conducted a workshop for leaders of various community organizations
to explain visa processing and to encourage screening of
applications. More than 40 representatives attended, and the
consular section plans another workshop for the next reporting

9. Several changes were made in the reporting period to use
anti-fraud resources more effectively. The consular section moved
away from document verification as the primar method of detecting
fraud to place greater emphasis on interviewing. In this regard,
the consular section greatly benefited from a two-month TDY by a WAE
who demonstrated effective interviewing techniques. Post
discontinued the practice of issuing one-month visas as an
anti-fraud measure and ended the call-back program: borderline
applicants are now simply denied. These changes freed resources to
perform more field investigations, which focused on serious fraud,
including alien smuggling, imposters, and mala fide relationships.


10. A reorganization of anti-fraud resources also took place in the
immigrant visa section. The consular section no longer verifies
every civil document presented in immigrant visas cases. The
verifications represented a considerable commitment of time,
particularly given the difficulties of travel in the DRC, and often
produced inconclusive results. In addition, all documents are not
central to adjudicating every kind of immigrant visa case. As in
NIV work, emphasis has moved to spending more time on interviews and
field investigations. The consular section pays particular
attention to minors. A 2007 NIV validation study showed a
high-incidence of overstays for children, particularly boys, between
the ages of 10 and 14. Post believes a similar kind of risk exists
in immigrant cases for children, who may be petitioned by persons
lacking a biological relationship.

11. DNA testing provides an invaluable tool in anti-fraud work
across immigrant visa categories, most notably for Visas 92/93, and
post welcomes the changes brought by reftel B. The primary value of
DNA testing for the consular section is deterrence. In fiscal year
2008, post monitored 85 DNA tests; 80 came back positive. Post
estimates, however, that perhaps twice that many tests were
recommended but never completed, suggesting at least some mala fide
applicants dropped claims rather than risk being exposed. The
general public is aware that the consular section regularly suggests
DNA testing.


12. In fiscal year 2008, post saw a 30% rise in DV adjudications,
the second year of such an increase. "Pop-up" marriages - marriages
that took place after the principal applicant entered the lottery -
represent the largest number and most difficult of fraud cases.
Post conducts separate interviews for the husband and wife in pop-up
marriages and requires convincing secondary evidence. Still, many
interviews lead to field investigations, and post estimates that
half of these marriages are not issued DVs. Post has continued the
practice of verifying all DRC high school diplomas, and fake
diplomas constitute the second largest source of DV fraud.
Applicants also present certificates and training program diplomas
to claim an education equivalent to an American high school diploma.
The consular section usually does not accept these claims.
Finally, post confirmed 12 cases of imposters during the DV season.

13. The WAE TDYer helped train the section in uncovering patterns
of fraud by using Lexis/Nexus and CCD to find visa fixers in the
United States and by identifying potentially problematic cases that
needed additional attention. For example, post found that one
address in the United States yielded 11 2009 DV winners. Of these
cases, two were issued, two were denied for pre-existing
derivatives, one missed the interview, five had "pop-up" marriages,
and two were subjects of field investigations. The consular section
plans greater use of computer-assisted anti-fraud tools during the
next DV season.

14. Post has reported on the DRC's efforts to introduce biometric
passports and on the difficulties applicants face in acquiring
passports (reftels C and D). The delays affect all categories of
applicants, but DV winners are particularly hard hit. Most DV
winners receive their passports in the last two months of the fiscal
year, and the sudden rush of applicants taxes the fraud unit. DV
cases in the DRC are high risk - exceeded only by Visas 92/93 - and
post will continue public outreach to encourage DV applicants to
become documentarily qualified as soon as possible.


15. Post had one case of ACS fraud: an imposter tried to obtain a
US passport using genuine documents. The ACS FSN was alerted when a
comparison of the application and documents showed errors. During
the interview with the officer, the applicant was unfamiliar with
the biographical details of his application. The case was turned
over to the RSO, who elicited a confession.


16. Adoptions cases are numerous and problematic. Congolese law
governing adoptions is complicated and confusing - and frequently
ignored by courts. For example, the law forbids couples with two
children from adopting a third; local judges, however, frequently
ignore this prohibition and issue valid acts of adoption to couples
with large families. In addition, informal adoptions are
commonplace. In the typical scenario, a child goes to live with a
family member who is better off financially (or who is immigrating
to the United States), but no legal adoption takes place, and the
biological parents remain active in the child's life. For these
reasons, adoption cases take up a large portion of anti-fraud
resources, because a large number of documents must be authenticated
and because a field investigation is usually required.


17. As mentioned earlier, DNA testing is vital to Embassy
Kinshasa's anti-fraud work, particularly in Visas 92/93 cases, where
documents are often missing or unavailable. Despite the poverty
found in the DRC, most applicants do not object to the costs
associated with the testing, since it often provides the only means
to establish a biological relationship. Instead, applicants express
concern about the time needed to receive results, but even then, the
testing can be faster than trying to obtain documents from local
officials in areas racked by war.


18. Visa 92/93 cases present unique anti-fraud challenges. A
typical mala fide applicant holds the same profile as a typical bona
fide applicant: a child who knows little or nothing about the
petitioner and lacks documents proving the relationship. DNA
testing is vital for confirming biological relationships but cannot
authentic marriages or adoptions, which are common. Most Visas
Qauthentic marriages or adoptions, which are common. Most Visas
92/93 applicants, moreover, are poorly educated, bewildered by the
bureaucratic demands of immigrant visa processing, and living close
to poverty. The end result can be cases that stretch out for
months. As an example, in October 2008, the consular section
interviewed seven children petitioned by their father in a Visas
92/93 case. The two oldest children did not look like the other
five, had no secondary evidence of their relationship to the
petitioner, and at the interview, appeared to be coached. Post
asked for DNA testing. The two youngest children were tested in
March 2009, and visas were issued, but the other five have never
reappeared. During the reporting period, post confirmed several
cases of fraudulent relationships but no cases of imposters.


19. Trafficking remains a serious concern for post. Consular
officers pay close attention to children in all visa categories.
During the reporting period, post did not issue any tourist visas to
children traveling alone or to domestics. Post scrutinizes
Kinshasa's large Lebanese community, some of who may be involved in
terrorist fund-raising. In August, one Lebanese businessman was
denied a visa when his SAO indicated ineligibility. In September
the DRC sent a diplomatic note for two Cubans working as
presidential physicians; both had applied in 2008 with different
names in Congolese passports. The applicants have been found
ineligible under 212(a)(6)(C), and post plans to ask the DRC for a
formal explanation.


20. Post had one DS criminal fraud investigation.


21. Post had concerns about the security of the interim biometric
passports the DRC began issuing in 2008, but the Department
determined that the passports were valid travel documents, and the
DRC stopped issuing them in March 2009. The old, non-biometric
passports are still valid, most with a validity date until 2012.
These passports provide biographic information written in ink, which
is often difficult to read, and lack rudimentary security features.
Of more concern are the administratve procedures involved in
acquiring passports. Application procedures are not standardized,
and it is possible for an applicant to obtain a passport without
supporting documentation. Even that supporting documentation can be
suspect. Congolese law requires that all births be registered
within three months. But if a birth is not registered, two
witnesses can make a sworn statement, a local magistrate can issue a
judgment based on that statement, and a birth certificate can be
issued. The majority of DV and Visas 92/93 applicants seen in the
reporting period provided birth certificates registered in 2009.
Marriage certificates are even more problematic. Congolese law
recognizes three types of marriages, customary, civil, and
religious. Customary marriages are regulated by local governments,
which show little interest in providing administrative oversight.


22. The consular section enjoys a solid working relationship with
the MFA's office of protocol and with the Director General of
immigration. Local officials, with a few exceptions, work willingly
with fraud investigators. But these relationships have built-in
limits: both the Director General and the Chief of protocol have
made multiple visa recommendations for mala fide travelers. Even
those host government officials willing to work with the consular
section are hampered by administrative constraints, such as
intermittent power supplies, incomplete administrative records, and
low employee morale.


23. The vacant entry-level officer position is the section's
number-one concern. The junior officer position - one of two
officers in the section - has been vacant for six months and is
unlikely to be filled before January. This officer is normally the
visa chief and head of the anti-fraud unit. Fraud prevention
remains a top priority, but reorganization and shifting resources
can only go so far, and effective fraud work requires a second
officer. Because of the staffing gap, the consul was forced to
cancel attendance at the anti-fraud course in June.


24. The Consul and the FSN Consular Assistant serve as the Fraud
Prevention Unit. Two consular FSNs have applied for fraud training
QPrevention Unit. Two consular FSNs have applied for fraud training
in Washington in November, but currently post does not have any
officers who have completed fraud prevention training.


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