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Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Baghdad

VZCZCXYZ0467
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #2680/01 2790311
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060311Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4957
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0020
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 2269
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0006
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0657
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0315
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT 0607

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002680


DEPT FOR CA/FPP, KCC WILLIAMSBURG KY, DHS FOR CIS/FDNS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC PREF KFRD IZ
SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY - BAGHDAD

REF: A. STATE 057623
B. TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2009

COUNTRY CONDITIONS

1. Security remains a concern in Iraq; however, conditions are
gradually improving. Traveling both domestically and around the
region remains difficult for Iraqi nationals. High numbers of
Iraqis continue to pursue plans to immigrate to the US for economic
and security reasons. Post is preparing to expand nonimmigrant visa
services to include accepting B1/B2 applications from members of the
public. Currently, B1/B2 applications are accepted on referral or
if an applicant meets specific criteria such as a medical emergency.
Post also administers a large special immigrant visa program and
continues processing traditional immigrant visas. Post continues to
identify significant vulnerabilities in various Iraqi civil
documents such as identity cards and certificates of nationality
that make it possible for mala fide applicants to obtain genuine
Iraqi passports under false identities. Access to the Consular
Section in Baghdad's International Zone is a continuing logistical
challenge. The current overall level of fraud at Post is low,
though this may be a product of our overall qualified applicant pool
and may change when post begins processing B1/B2 applications for
the general public.

NON IMMIGRANT VISA (NIV) FRAUD

2. Post adjudicated 1,710 NIV applications between March 1 and
August 31. Of these, thirty-four percent were A and G visas, 28
percent were J visas and 25 percent were B1/B2 visas. The remainder
was primarily F visa applicants. Post began adjudicating F and J
visas in August 2008. NIV fraud was minimal during the reporting
period. Consular staff referred two non-immigrant cases to the
Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU). In one, further investigation
confirmed false identity. The applicant appeared for a second
interview and admitted that her fianc had obtained a second
passport for her in a false identity, due to a previous visa
refusal. Facial recognition software made the match between the two
cases. FPU staff investigated the second case, involving suspicious
documents, and found no fraud.

IMMIGRANT VISA (IV) FRAUD

3. Post began immigrant visa processing on July, 2008.

4. In addition to regular IV and DV cases, Post administers two
Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs for Iraqi nationals who have
been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government. Embassy
Baghdad's Office of Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Affairs
(REF) accepts Section 1244 SIV applications for Chief of Mission
approval. As designees of the Chief of Mission (COM), the refugee
coordinators in REF determine whether the applicants statutorily
qualify to apply for the SIV program. Fraud prevention measures in
the COM process seek to detect imposters, detect fraudulent
documents, and verify employment on behalf of the USG.

5. Independent employment verification at the Chief of Mission
approval stage is an important fraud prevention measure. REF
requires all employment letters to be on company letterhead and
employment verification communication to be done via an official
USG, military or corporate email account. REF is creating new SIV
statistical reports to monitor trends that could highlight areas for
potential fraud such as an unrealistic number of recommendations
Qpotential fraud such as an unrealistic number of recommendations
coming from one supervisor or company. Generally, applicants in
both programs have undergone security screening by their employers
as part of their hiring process and fraud has been limited to date.
However, the FPU and REF discovered weaknesses in some contractors'
overall employment vetting, verification and termination procedures
that have allowed mala fide SIV applicants to reach the visa
interview stage in cases where they had been fired for cause after
the REF vetting process. The FPU coordinates review of suspected
cases with the Regional Security Office and on occasion has sought
additional clarification regarding the applicant's history from the
employer as a second layer of security. REF and the FPU are working
together to institute stronger joint internal measures to guard
against SIV fraud.

6. Post issued 1,876 immigrant visas in this six month reporting
period. Eighty percent were Iraqi SIV program cases. Consular
staff referred 10 cases to the FPU. Closer examination found no
fraud in eight, and two are pending investigation.


DIVERSITY VISA FRAUD

7. Baghdad adjudicated twenty-five Diversity Visas and reported no
fraud.

AMERICAN CITIZENS SERVICES (ACS) AND US PASSPORT FRAUD

8. The ACS unit reported no significant fraud for the past six
months. The unit referred one passport case to the Fraud Prevention
Unit for investigation, which found no evidence of fraud. The
majority of first time passport applicants in Iraq are US military
personnel with government issued identification and original birth
certificates.

ADOPTION FRAUD

9. Foreign adoptions are not allowed in Iraq and Post does not
process adoption cases.

USE OF DNA TESTING

10. Post is in the process of negotiating with a new panel
physician clinic that has the capability to administer DNA testing
under the recently published Department guidelines.

REFUGEE, ASYLUM AND OTHER DHS BENEFIT FRAUD

11. REF continues to work to identity potential fraud in the U.S.
Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and is increasing information
sharing between the USRAP and the SIV program as the two programs
draw from the same pool of Iraqi applicants. REF ensures that
derogatory threat information that leads to the denial of an SIV is
passed to DHS officers who will adjudicate the same applicant's
refugee case.

ALIEN SMUGGLING, TRAFFICKING, ORGANIZED CRIME, TERRORIST TRAVEL

12. Post maintains a productive working relationship with Ministry
of Interior (MOI) officials. Iraq is a known source country for
terrorists and the Consular Section has been working through the
Visas Viper and other reporting mechanisms to ensure the proper
watch listing of suspected terrorists or individuals of concern.
Iraq is both a source and destination country for men, women, and
children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual
exploitation and involuntary servitude (Ref B). The more prevalent
means of becoming a victim is through sale or forced marriage. The
ACS section assisted three American citizens who were victims of
forced marriage in Iraq. Two were successfully repatriated and one
case is pending resolution.

DS CRIMINAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

13. No new information to report this period.

HOST COUNTRY PASSPORT, IDENTITY DOCUMENTS AND CIVIL REGISTRY

14. The new A-series Iraqi passport book is scheduled to be issued
in October 2009; the current G series Iraqi passport will continue
to be distributed until book stock is depleted. There will be no
wholesale replacement of previous books and all issued G-series
passports will remain valid.

15. The A-series will contain a mandatory thumbprint in the book
itself, positioned on the data page. The print will be captured
electronically at the time of application and then verified when
applicants retrieve their passports (heads of households can pick up
passports for the entire family). The Directorate of Passports,
Travel and Nationality plans to electronically transfer, via the
Internet, A-series applications from provincial offices (one office
in each Iraqi province plus 14 offices in Baghdad). The books will
be printed in Baghdad and couriered to provincial offices. The
passport office in Baghdad has servers that allow it to accept
A-series passport applications and required finger scans from 20
Iraqi embassies overseas (see below) via the Internet. These 20
QIraqi embassies overseas (see below) via the Internet. These 20
embassies will also submit the application electronically to the
main passport office for printing, although this system is not yet
operational.

16. The A-series passport book interior is identical to those in
the G-series passport. The cover is slightly different and the book
has text printed in Arabic, Kurdish and English, instead of the
G-series Arabic and English only. The passport office states it has
the capability to run all applications against a "black list" of
criminals and terrorists. It is unclear if all applications are run
through this check.

17. Overseas passport application facilities (with finger scan
collection capability): Washington, D.C., Amman, Damascus, Tehran,
Dubai, Cairo, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Tunisia, Sanaa, Sydney,
Kuala Lumpur, Ottawa, Brasilia, Vienna, Istanbul, Paris, Bucharest,
Athens.

18. Post continues to be concerned with the credibility of Iraqi
identity documents. Anecdotal evidence suggests that all types of
fraudulent identity documents are available. The
widely-acknowledged existence of forged G-series passports remains
an issue, but it is a greater concern that authentic G-series
passports may be issued by the MOI based on fraudulent identity
documents. Inconsistency in official document production standards
remains a fundamental issue, particularly with ID cards issued in
the Kurdish region and in Diyala province. The Kurdish Regional
Government is producing its own version of the Iraq ID card which
does not conform to national formatting and security feature norms.


19. Notwithstanding these concerns and anecdotal evidence, Post has
not observed a significant volume of fraudulent documentation being
submitted to support U.S. visa applications.

20. Post has initiated several new programs to combat fraud. At
the end of August, the Consular Section established a Fraud
Prevention Unit composed of the FSO Fraud Prevention Manager, one
Locally Engaged Staff (LES) member, and one Eligible Family Member
(EFM). Each member of the FPU has consular responsibilities in
addition to the fraud portfolio. The unit has created a
computerized index of all exemplars currently in its files and is
working to acquire more and better samples. The FPU is currently
focusing on a retrospective analysis of fraud trends and issues in
order to establish a baseline for future operational focus. The FPM
is also refining Standard Operating Procedures for IV, NIV, and ACS
officers to refer cases to FPU; and the FPM provides Iraqi document
verification training to consular staff.

21. The Consular Section has expanded outreach efforts to the MOI
in order to continue information sharing on document fraud trends
and detection techniques in Iraq. We also continue enhancing
liaison and coordination efforts with the Consular Sections of other
foreign missions in Iraq focusing on common fraud prevention issues
and sharing relevant information. The FPM met recently with his
Danish counterpart to discuss fraud in refugee cases. The FPU and
Consular Section also have an excellent working relationship with
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Attache at Post and
frequently consult regarding suspect documents. The DHS Attache's
office also facilitates introduction to important a contacts within
the MOI and security services for the Consular Section.

21. The FPM and REF staff also met with the Human Resources
department at Global Linguist Services (GLS), the largest employer
of SIV applicants, to discuss employment verification and vetting
Qof SIV applicants, to discuss employment verification and vetting
concerns in the SIV process.

22. In conjunction with the Health Attache's office, the Regional
Medical Officer, and REF, the Consular Section is undertaking an in
depth review of panel physician qualifications and procedures.

COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES

23. The Consul General maintains productive relationships with
officials at the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Consular staff also enjoy open communication and useful
working-level relationships with Ministry employees.

AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN

24. In addition to concerns over document fraud, Post anticipates
increased fraud as non-immigrant visa processing expands.

STAFFING AND TRAINING

25. The FPM provides individualized training for all consular staff
working in IV, NIV, and ACS to ensure that personnel know how and
when to refer cases to FPU. FPM continues to update Fraud
Prevention Program files at Post to include more document exemplars,
fraud reporting trends, and detailed explanations of prior fraud
cases. The Consular Section's LES Fraud Assistant spent a week in
training with Embassy Amman's FPU in August and is also scheduled to
attend a Fraud Prevention Workshop for FSNs at the Foreign Service
Institute in November.


HILL

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