Search

 

Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Djibouti

VZCZCXRO1072
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDJ #1252/01 2811534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 081532Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0886
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 DJIBOUTI 001252

SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR KCC WILLIAMSBURG KY
DEPARTMENT FOR CA/FPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC DJ ET ER SO XA
SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY - DJIBOUTI

REF: 09 STATE 74840; 08 DJIBOUTI 687; 09 DJIBOUTI 569

DJIBOUTI 00001252 001.2 OF 005


1. Country Conditions: The Republic of Djibouti is a developing and
stable African country in the Horn of Africa. Although exact
statistics are unavailable, unemployment is estimated in excess of 50
percent of the working-age population. Over two-thirds of the
country's estimated 650,000 residents live in the capital, also
called Djibouti. Djibouti attracts numerous economic migrants and
refugees from neighboring Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

2. The level of consular fraud in Djibouti appears to be low; however
with the arrival of the new consular officer, fraud attempts are on
the rise.

---------
NIV FRAUD
---------

3. NIV fraud has become increasingly sophisticated. Lying continues
to be the principal method of fraud. Document fraud has evolved as
the interest to travel to the U.S. became popular with the increasing
American presence in Djibouti.

4. In February, 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Post
that the Djiboutian Embassy in Sudan will no longer issue visas to
Eritreans. Consequently, Eritreans are no longer able to travel to
Djibouti in order to apply for U.S. visas. As a result, the NIV
workload transferred to Post from Embassy Eritrea's suspension of
visa operations has decreased.

5. Tourism: Young applicants ages 22-35 -- including couples going on
their 'honeymoon', wanting to visit family, or planning to visit the
U.S. for tourism -- produce fraudulent documents to prove ties to
Djibouti. False documents are computer-generated to show stable
employment, sufficient finances, and property ownership. Fraudulent
bank statements are also included in the package with an official
stamp and signature. Spot checks by Post's consular fraud prevention
unit (FPU) have helped identify such fraud. Post's FPU has
discovered several indicators in the course of its investigations
such as recurring transaction numbers and incorrect balances.
Applicants also commonly obtain new passports as an attempt to
conceal prior travel to what are considered as possibly 'undesirable'
locations (i.e., to other predominantly Muslim countries).

6. Post has recognized a fraud trend involving middle-class
Djiboutians with stable ties to Djibouti. They visit the U.S. with
valid B1/B2 tourist visas, but once they arrive in the U.S., they
throw away their Djiboutian passports and attempt to cross the
Canadian border with a Somali passport in order to request asylum as
Somali refugees (Somali passports are easily purchased on the black
market in both Djibouti and Somalia). Or, they simply arrive at the
Canadian border with no documents, believing that if they are
stateless, Canada would have no option but to accept their asylum
claim. Customs and Border Protection reports all cases of these
failed attempts to Post. Discussion of this topic with Djiboutians,
including one who failed at his attempt to claim asylum in Canada,
suggest that Canada's generous welfare provisions, as well as common
language and family ties, make Canada a more appealing destination
than the United States for Djiboutians. However, as it is difficult
to obtain a visa to enter Canada, transit via the U.S. is becoming
more common. Many Djiboutian NIV applicants also have family members
in Canada, who can provide them with instructions on how to claim
asylum in Canada.

7. Students: The few Djiboutian student visa applicants received are
typically children of government ministers or of other government
officials. These applicants are legitimate. Other student
applicants are those attending English language programs for three to
four months. According to the 2008 validation study, these visa
applicants have returned to Djibouti.

8. Post conducted a validation study in April 2009 on 2008 Djiboutian
NIV applicants, which confirmed the return of approximately 60 per
cent of the applicants, a 5 per cent decrease from the 2007
validation study. The study also showed that more than half of the
Eritrean student visa applicants overstayed or changed their visa
status.

9. Post believes that future validation studies will continue to show
a lower return rate for both Eritrean F1 and Djiboutian B1/B2
applicants. The Ministry of Finance's Director of Economy concurred
with Post's observation that an increasing number of lower
middle-class B1/B2 applicants do not find the Djiboutian job market

DJIBOUTI 00001252 002.2 OF 005


attractive, and therefore tend to falsify supporting documents (i.e.,
employment letters or bank statements) in hopes of appearing
qualified for a U.S. non-immigrant visa.

10. Djibouti possesses porous borders, and Post continues to be
concerned about possible terrorists entering the country seeking to
travel to the U.S. Post continues to be diligent in processing SAOs
to curb the possibility of issuing a visa to a wanted terrorist. In
addition, we work with the regional LEGATT team for additional spot
checks.

11. To deter duplication of Djiboutian passports, the Government of
Djibouti (GoDJ) has worked diligently at creating a new
machine-readable passport. The GoDJ began distributing the new
passports in May 2009. Post has received passport specimens and will
forward them to CA/FPP.
The old passports are still valid, but are no longer produced or
extended. Both the new and old passports hold a 5-year validity.

12. In 2008, Djibouti-American contacts and French authorities
informed Post that Djiboutian passports had been purchased by
Somalis. Djiboutian authorities neither denied nor confirmed this
claim. If true, these passports would still be in circulation and
would be valid for at least the next 4-5 years.

13. Some of the visa recipients from Djibouti who attempted to claim
asylum in Canada as Somalis, reported to the Customs and Border
Protection Officer that they were actually Somalis, but had purchased
their passports in Djibouti. Post has been unable to confirm this
claim, but that various sources have reported similar information.

--------
IV FRAUD
--------
14. Most Djiboutian IV applicants are bona fide. However, the
majority of immigrant petitions received in Djibouti are family
reunification petitions for Somali citizens. Post has a high rate of
fraud in this area since there is no competent civil authority in
Somalia. All civil documents from Somalia can be easily purchased
and falsified.

15. The applicants typically have little to no evidence of a
relationship to the petitioner. Photos are almost never produced.
When photos do exist, they are clearly staged. (Note: Staged does
not necessarily mean fraud. Staged can also mean photographs by a
paid studio portrait with fake backdrop.) Additionally, the majority
of applicants are illiterate, and so there are no letters exchanged
between petitioner and applicant. Phone calls are expensive and
usually are made through prepaid cards, which leave no usable
records. Money transfer receipts are often offered as proof of
relationship. However, they tend to be handwritten on scraps of torn
notebook paper, and often do not indicate the name of either
petitioner or applicant, but rather use the name of a neighbor,
relative, etc., in a position to send or collect the money.

16. In addition to fraudulent marriages, unrelated and overage
children are added to petitions. Children are often stated to be
significantly younger than they are. To ensure that all the children
in a family will be younger than 21 at the time of petitioning, some
or all of their ages may be significantly regressed. On many
occasions, the panel physician has informed the ConOff that children
are either suspected to be over 21, or are unrelated applicants.

17. With the establishment and the expansion of Camp Lemonier in
Djibouti -- headquarters for approximately 2,200 U.S. military forces
-- Post has seen an increase in K1 visas. Some beneficiaries are
female prostitutes working in local bars. Rudimentary English skills
make them unable to answer simple questions about their fiances.


--------
DV FRAUD
--------
18. Post began processing Diversity Visas (DVs) in 2007. Most of the
winners are Somalis, who present the same documents and at times have
the same sponsor. This is a concern for Post, considering the lack
of competent government authorities to issue police records, civil
documents, school records, etc. in Somalia. Therefore, it is very
difficult to verify the compliance of Somali DV applicants.

----------------------
ACS AND PASSPORT FRAUD
----------------------

19. The same factors that influence IV fraud also affect passport and

DJIBOUTI 00001252 003.2 OF 005


citizenship fraud. Post is sometimes forced to rely on voluntary DNA
testing to adjudicate CRBA cases for children born in Somalia.

20. Another problematic and questionable factor is the ability of
parents to transfer citizenship to their child. Some parents have
lived out of the United States for so long it is difficult for them
to prove at least 3 years physical presence in the United States.

21. Due to the high number of U.S. military servicemen in Djibouti,
Post continues to receive an increasing number of CRBA cases from
them and their Djiboutian or Ethiopian girlfriends. To protect the
servicemen from prostitutes who may target them, and to prevent
citizenship fraud, Post suggests DNA exams from the serviceman and
the alleged child to prove relationship.

22. Post continues to experience an increasing number of cases where
Somali-Americans have lost their passports during their visit to
Somalia. Post believes there is a possibility that Somali-Americans
return to Somalia upon receiving nationality, and give their
passports to family members (such as their brother, sister or cousin)
who have similar physical features to the AmCit. The family member
then travels to the U.S. with the passport. Once the family member
arrives in the U.S., the AmCit reports his or her passport lost or
stolen. Since Post now has access to the DSH, we use this tool to
track the entry and exits of AmCits who report their passports lost
or stolen. We also have the regional LEGATT office at Embassy Sanaa
conduct namechecks. Djibouti's immigration authorities at the
airport have also been very helpful in identifying AmCits with new
American passports whose lost and stolen passport was used to exit
the country.

23. Post has experienced an increasing number of repatriation claims
from Somali-Americans. An applicant typically arrives at the Embassy
after having visited friends or family in Somaliland or Somalia for
several months (even years). Having overstayed the return ticket
validity, he or she then requests financial assistance. Another
scenario is that the AmCit either claims to have become ill or to
have run out of money and needs to return to the U.S. As a result,
numerous Somali-Americans have arrived at the consular window in
Djibouti requesting a free plane ticket to return to the U.S., but
are reluctant to provide contact persons for financial support. When
They do provide contacts, the phone is disconnected or no one
answers. In each case, Post corresponds with CA/OCS/ACS before
approving repatriation loans for Somali-Americans.

24. Many new Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) visiting their
countries of origin for vacation also report their travel documents
or green cards lost. Post relies on authority from the DHS Regional
Office to provide a travel letter.

--------------
ADOPTION FRAUD
--------------

25. Foreign adoption is extremely difficult in Djibouti. By law,
only non-Djiboutian children (e.g., a baby born to an Ethiopian
mother and unknown father) are eligible for foreign adoption. The
difficulty in completing an adoption here deters all but the most
determined would-be parents. It is not unusual for the process to
take up to a year to complete. We therefore believe adoption fraud
is negligible.

----
DNA
----

26. Post has found that the only definitive evidence of relationship
is DNA. We have found a decreasing number of cases with negative DNA
results. However, approximately 40 per cent of cases where we
suggest DNA testing never follow through with such testing. We
believe that word is spreading that DNA cannot be 'fooled', and
abandoned cases know that they will be caught if they attempt to do
DNA testing. Many of the negative DNA tests come back close, but do
not meet the required threshold for proof. We suspect identity fraud
in these cases; for example, an aunt or a sister claiming to be the
mother.

27. Post also finds a significant number of legitimate families will
slip-in additional children. Where more than one child is DNA
tested, one may come back legitimate while another returns as no
relation.

28. Marriages where no children are available to DNA test are
particularly difficult to prove. Often, there is no relationship
between the two spouses, because the marriage was arranged and the

DJIBOUTI 00001252 004.2 OF 005


spouses knew each other for only a matter of days. While the vast
majority of the marriage arrangements involved payment to the AmCit
or LPR, sometimes in the form of a dowry, the applicants still
appear to take the arrangement seriously, and consider it to be a
valid marriage.

-------------
V92s and V93s
-------------

29. All the issues detailed in IVs above apply to Visas 92s (V92s)
and Visas 93s (V93s). However, we find a significantly higher
percentage of relationship fraud in V92s and V93s. For V93s, in
cases of spouses without children, the vast majority were married
well after the I-590 was approved, usually only weeks or in some
cases just hours prior to departure for the U.S. During the
interview, they frequently claim that they were living together as
spouses for several months prior to the filing the I-590, but only
decided to marry when departure was imminent. Post believes that
many unmarried refugees accept the highest financial bidder for a
spouse after they receive their travel date.

---------------
ALIEN SMUGGLING
---------------

30. While Post has not identified any alien smuggling trends, it
cannot discount the possibility of alien smuggling in IV cases,
particularly when Post must rely on DNA testing to determine
relationship. Djibouti is a transit country for economic and
political migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia heading to the
Middle East. In a desperate attempt to reach their destination, the
migrants become targets for traffickers and smugglers.

-------------------------------
DS CRIMINAL FRAUD INVESTIGATION
-------------------------------

31. The RSO and ARSO support the Consular Section fraud
investigations. They also provide information regarding possible
visa fraud we may encounter due to the evolving dynamics of
Djibouti's economy. One of the three FSNs in the Consular Section is
dedicated to fraud investigation, but has not taken any formal fraud
detection training. The RSO FSN Investigator (FSNI), who assists the
Consular Section with fraud investigations, is an experienced
investigator who has received field investigation training. This
partnership between the RSO and Consular Section has strengthened
Post's fraud prevention. All investigations results are reported in
writing.

------------------------------------------
HOST COUNTRY CRIMINAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS
------------------------------------------

32. Citizenship is not automatically conferred to anyone by birth in
Djibouti; to inherit citizenship, at least one parent must be a
documented Djiboutian. The Government issues birth certificates for
non-Djiboutians; however, the document clearly states "Servie A
L'occasion De La Naissance," meaning "Only for the Occasion of the
Birth". Most Djiboutians are documented, and those documents are
well organized and maintained by the government. Upon gaining
independence from France in 1977, Djibouti launched a campaign to
document its citizens.

--------------------------------------------
COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES
--------------------------------------------

33. The host government cooperates with Post and is willing to assist
us with combating visa fraud. There is robust cooperation between
host country security services and the USG.

---------------------------
AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN
---------------------------

34. As detailed above, a key concern is insufficient ability to
authenticate documents presented by the many Somali applicants who
appear at Embassy Djibouti. As a result, it is difficult to
establish with satisfaction the bona fides of Somali travelers, many
of whose applications are thus denied, in the absence of guidance to
the contrary from the Department.


35. Long delays in responding to requests for Security Advisory

DJIBOUTI 00001252 005.2 OF 005


Opinions (SAOs) are another concern. Djibouti's predominantly Muslim
and ethnic Somali society means a large number of applicants must
wait for further administrative processing. Lack of specific date or
place of birth information for many CLASS hits has required Post to
submit numerous SAO requests--the vast majority of which are cleared,
albeit weeks later (if not longer).

36. Lack of knowledge of Somali, the lingua franca of Djibouti, is a
hindrance to ConOff and to fraud investigation activities. The
ConOff has general proficiency in French, a skill very much needed
when dealing with educated Djiboutians, however the majority of the
time she must rely on the LES staff for translation.

37. ConOff works closely with the French and other Consulates to
share and receive information on fraud trends in Djibouti. In order
to combat fraud from applicants from Eritrea, Yemen and Somalia, Post
also works closely with regional posts to verify documents.

----------------
PERSONNEL ISSUES
----------------

38. Post has only one ConOff and a back-up ConOff (Post's Public
Diplomacy officer) who will leave in April 2010. It is unclear
whether back-up Conoff's replacement will have a consular title.
ConOff has taken PC541 (Fraud Prevention for Consular Managers) at
FSI and acts as the Fraud Prevention Manager. The Senior FSN in
Post's Consular Section serves as the Fraud and ACS assistant and
will be attending PC542 in November. Additionally, none of the LES
have had any formal training in providing translation services.
WONG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>