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Cablegate: Niamey Fraud Summary (March 1 - Sept 30, 2009)

VZCZCXRO0881
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0836/01 3000629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270629Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5405
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0112
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 2489

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NIAMEY 000836

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO KCC WILLIAMSBURG KY
DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
FRANKFURT PLS PASS RCO S WELBORNE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC SOCI SCUL NG
SUBJECT: Niamey Fraud Summary (March 1 - Sept 30, 2009)

Ref: a) 08 State 074840 b) State 57623

1. The following cable responds to the Department's request (ref A
and B) for updated information on patterns of fraud in consular
activities and post's fraud prevention efforts.

a. Country Conditions in Niger
------------------------------
2. Niger recently was ranked last among the 182 countries evaluated
in the UNDP Human Development Index, well below other countries with
similar per capital GDP (slightly over USD 600 per capita in 2007).
The economy is largely pastoral, with livestock exports second only
to uranium exports as a source of foreign exchange. Niger imports
most manufactured goods, and depends upon food imports to cover
basic human needs. Poverty and lack of employment motivate
Nigeriens to seek work in other areas of West Africa, but few
would-be emigrants have the education or experience for success in
developed economies, so Niger has a much smaller and less wealthy
diaspora than neighboring countries.

3. Niger's fledgling democracy provided political stability for
nearly ten years until mid-2009, when President Tandja refused to
accept constitutionally mandated limits to two consecutive
presidential terms of five years each. He, instead, consolidated
power through a new constitution adopted by means of a controversial
national referendum held on August 4, 2009, in spite the
opposition's boycott. Seeking to intimidate the opposition, the
government harassed opposition figures and arrested independent
journalists. While the opposition has remained peaceful thus far,
the unstable political situation holds considerable risk for Niger.

b. NIV Fraud
------------
4. Because visa validity is limited to one year, a high percentage
of NIV approvals are renewals. Most NIV fraud in Niger involves
presentation of fake documents in support of visa applications by
individuals who are clearly unqualified. Post limits investigation
to those few cases that are otherwise approvable, or that suggest a
specific pattern of document fraud. During the reporting period,
post recognized that several applicants presented fraudulent bank
statements with exactly the same withdrawals and deposits,
indicating that the documents had been generated from the same base
document. Copies of these documents were provided to the bank.

c. IV Fraud
-----------
5. Polygamy is deeply embedded in Nigerien culture and most Nigerien
men have several wives. Most IV fraud involves Nigerien men who
have overstayed their visas and adjusted status in the United States
after marriage; in many cases, they remain legally married and
emotionally tied to their original wife or wives in Niger. When the
Amcit wife petitions for immigration of her husband's children by a
"prior" marriage, and the children report that their father is still
married to their mother; frequently investigation reveals that the
divorce papers presented in the father's adjustment of status were
false.

6. In one case, the father had naturalized and divorced his American
wife and petitioned for the immigration of his original wife and
their children, including one conceived during a visit to Niger
while he was still married to the Amcit. Post welcomes the
opportunity to verify divorce documents before the adjustment of
status is granted and has responded to a number of such requests
during the reporting period. In almost all cases, the documents
were fraudulent.

d. DV Fraud
-----------
7. Diversity Visas represented over half of the total immigrant visa
cases processed in Niamey during FY 2009. Of 26 cases adjudicated,
12 were refused, most because the principal applicant lacked the
required educational or professional experience or had failed to
include all family members in the original entry. Post verifies all
BAC certificates in DV cases, and false certificates accounted for
three refusals this year.

8. The presence of a new spouse was an indicator of potential fraud,
particularly when the marriage had taken place in another country.
Post conducted separate interviews and referred all documents in
these cases for verification. Documents were confirmed fraudulent
in two cases, and two other cases expired after the couples could
not provide similar information in dual interviews and the documents
could not be verified. In all four cases, the couples' sponsor in
the United States was a relative of the derivative applicant who had
entered the United States as a DV2 derivative, but was no longer
living with that person.

NIAMEY 00000836 002 OF 003

e. ACS and U.S. Passport Fraud
------------------------------
9. Most passports issued at post are renewals for individuals who
are either missionaries or development workers. When the new
passport is for a child born in the United States to Nigerien
parents, post routinely requires photos and passport to document the
mother's presence in the United States as well as transition photos
for the child.

f. Adoption Fraud
-----------------
10. Post did not process any adoptions during the reporting period,
but two American families resident in Niamey informed Post of the
adoption of children born in third countries; they plan to petition
for immigrant visas after the child has lived with the family for
two years. In both cases, Post forwarded the final adoption
documents to the U.S. Embassy in the source country to verify the
adoption was legal under local laws. There were no indicators of
fraud in either case.

g. Use of DNA Testing
---------------------
11. Post requests DNA testing in cases in which there is no clear
evidence of paternity. During this period, post processed immigrant
visas in two cases that had been verified through earlier DNA
testing. Post received negative DNA on one child in a special
immigrant visa (SIV) case in which the principal applicant had been
issued earlier. The alleged father claims that he did not know that
the child, born to the third of his four wives, was not biologically
related to him.

h. Asylum and Other DHS Benefit Fraud
-------------------------------------
12. Post processed a total of twelve YY visas in FY 2009 for
relatives of individuals who received asylum based on persecution
for their political beliefs or on claims of slavery. In two cases,
DNA tests verified relationships that could not otherwise be
documented. Another case of requested DNA is pending.

i. Alien Smuggling, Trafficking, Organized Crime, Terrorist Travel
--------------------------------------------- ---
13. No cases occurred during the reporting period.

j. DS Criminal Fraud Investigations
-----------------------------------
14. No cases occurred during the reporting period.

k. Host Country Passport, Identity Documents and Civil Registry
--------------------------------------------- ---------
15. Niger's passports are of modern design with multiple security
features, but the civil documents on which they are based are
falsified easily. For example, a recent visa applicant had been
previously refused under 6(c) after fingerprints revealed that he
had traveled to the United States, overstayed, and been arrested
using an entirely different identity. Loose naming conventions lead
to discrepancies in the order and transliteration of names.
Nigeriens will accept and use documents, including passports, in
which their birth names have been reversed; post regularly refuses
to accept visa applications until such passport errors have been
corrected.

l. Cooperation with Host Government Authorities
--------------------------------------------- --
16. Cooperation with host government authorities is generally good,
but Post continues to examine carefully all visa applications
transmitted through diplomatic channels because local practice
extends this privilege to powerful individuals who have no official
reason to travel. During the reporting period, post refused dip
note processing for non-immigrant visas for three individuals who
planned to travel to the United States to sell parcels, or lots, in
a new subdivision of Niamey. The visa requests had been presented
as official travel on behalf of the Ministry of African Integration
and Overseas Nigeriens, but none of the individuals actually was a
government employee.

m. Areas of Particular Concern
------------------------------
17. The most critical fraud challenge in Niger involves adjustment
of status cases based on fraudulent divorce documents, because the
opportunity to validate the divorce often arises only after LPR
status has been granted. In a recent case, the Amcit wife contacted
Post while her husband was back in Niger for his first visit home in
nine years. She had discovered evidence that he was involved with a
woman in Niger. Post investigation subsequently documented that he
had been married by proxy during his stay in the United States and

NIAMEY 00000836 003 OF 003


had consummated that marriage during his return visit, making him an
active polygamist under U.S. law and leaving his American wife angry
and hurt. That evidence was referred to DHS for action, but given
the high rates and absolute acceptance of polygamy in Niger, there
are doubtless many similar cases as yet undiscovered.

n. Staffing and Training
------------------------
18. During FY 2009, post's experienced LES benefitted from the
special training program provided for LES from small consular posts,
further developing her expertise and professionalism. Post also
benefits from an EFM who has expanded services to American citizens
and updated our website. Over the medium term, consular services in
Niamey would benefit from a second LES staff position, to provide
backup to the current FSN and conduct fraud investigations on a more
timely basis than we can do using the FSN Investigators who work for
the RSO. Given the language complexities, it is not reasonable to
assign investigations to the American EFM.

ALLEN

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