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Cablegate: September 2009 Fraud Summary, Tel Aviv

VZCZCXRO5859
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #2222/01 2811536
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081536Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3739
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 1837
RUCOYAB/COMNAVCARGO WILLIAMSBURG VA
INFO RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 2940
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 8157
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 0004
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0001
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 0075
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0512
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0031
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 TEL AVIV 002222

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP, SARAH SEXTON
DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
ROME FOR DHS/ICE
ATHENS FOR DHS/ICE, DHS/CIS AND SSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CMGT CASC KFRD ASEC CVIS CPAS IS
SUBJECT: SEPTEMBER 2009 FRAUD SUMMARY, TEL AVIV

REFTELS: A) TEL AVIV 763, B) TEL AVIV 538 AND C) TEL AVIV 423

(A) COUNTRY CONDITIONS: Tel Aviv's consular district is considered
to have medium-level fraud. Israel is a highly westernized nation
with a vibrant democracy and relatively strong economy. It boasts a
high literacy rate, a high GDP and relatively low unemployment. It
is also a nation that travels. After visa demand peaked in the
summer of 2008, there has been a noticeable decline since then,
presumably due to ongoing global economic troubles.

As of 31 May 2009, the Israeli government estimated its population
at 7,424,000 residents (not including foreigners), of whom 75.5% are
Jewish and 20.2% are Arab. Israel currently has a rising rate of
unemployment, which increased by 1.3 percent since the fourth
quarter of 2008 to the current 7.6 percent rate. Of late, all of
the major newspapers have published articles on immigration sweeps,
arrests, and deportations of illegal workers.

(B) NIV FRAUD

STATS: During the April 1 - October 1 reporting period, 222 cases
of potential fraud were referred to the Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU).
While we try to remember to click on "FPU" within the NIV program,
we continue to actively remind officers to do so for every case that
FPU handles. The "FPU button" statistics do not reflect the
considerable time FPU and FPM has spent on Dead Sea-related fraud
and organized crime concerns.

R1 VISAS: An applicant appeared at the Embassy requesting that her
visa be cancelled because it had been fraudulently obtained. She
stated that she and her husband had paid a rabbi to obtain R1
petition qualifying papers and that an attorney knowingly processed
their fraudulent paperwork. Instead of working in the religious
outreach field, the principal applicant went to work for a locksmith
company (which has been accused of extorting its clients); though
his R1 was cancelled, he still remains in the United States.

DEAD SEA-RELATED FRAUD: Last month, Post began an aggressive
campaign to combat false and misleading information given to young,
post-army Israelis by recruiters and various Web sites about "legal"
work opportunities in the United States. Lured by often false
promises of earning huge sums of money by selling Dead Sea cosmetics
and skin care products at kiosks in malls across the United States,
this particular group of Israelis have been known to work illegally
on their tourist visas, expired temporary work visas or on
"training" visas of questionable merit. Worker exploitation is also
of concern.

One part of this campaign, thanks to the Department of State's H/L
funds, is Post's printing of 10,000 colorful, double-sided handout
cards. These cards, to be given only to this particular Israeli
demographic, inform them that their newly issued B1B2 visas are
mainly for tourism and advise them as to which visa categories
legally permit work, such as H2B. All of our line officers continue
to inform everyone within this demographic that it is illegal to
work on a tourist visa- as one of them said, "this is a constant
refrain."

The second part of this campaign is the consular and public
diplomacy sections' creation, production and posting of a nine
minute You Tube video geared to these young, post army Israelis.
Recruitment companies regularly utilize social networking and
Internet advertising sites to specifically target and recruit these
Israelis; the consular section believes that by reaching out to them
using the same modes of communication, it can greatly enhance their
awareness of the often severe legal consequences of working
illegally in the States, such as multi-year travel bans-which
impacts their future ability to legally travel to the United States.
In the video, Consul General Andrew Parker stresses that applicants
be honest and truthful throughout the visa application process;
illustrating what happens to applicants who do not follow this
advice in this video are the personal testimonies of Israelis who
were deported from the United States after committing visa fraud
and/or worked illegally on tourist visas.

The third, and last, part of this campaign was the decision to hold
a Web-chat session on September 16 and invite the press to the
Embassy on September 17 for a behind-the-scenes visa section tour, a
debut screening of the video, and a round-table discussion on these
issues. Despite a busy political/diplomatic week, several of
Israel's major news outlets, in Hebrew, Russian, and Arabic
expressed major interest in the subject and produced significant
results with major exposure to the Israeli public. A direct link to
the You Tube video is
http://usembassy-israel.org.il/consular/niv/i ndex.aspx. As of
October 7, 2009, it had been viewed 2,251 times, making it the most
popular video on Post's You Tube Channel.

Parallel to the above campaign, Post's FPM continues to develop and
strengthen working relationships with CBP at various POEs and ICE
and now has an e-mail distribution list for Dead-Sea related issues.
Additional, detailed information on Dead-Sea related fraud will
follow septel (REFTEL C is the first Dead Sea cable and contains
background information on this ongoing situation).

DOCUMENT VENDOR FRAUD: Post continues to monitor fraud from a
document vendor who previously worked at Post. Post also testified
at the sentencing hearing for another visa document vendor who had
perpetrated long-term fraud. This vendor, composed of a father and
son team, sold fake pay slips, letters of recommendation and
university registration receipts to applicants who had previously
been refused visas from approximately 2003-2007. The two pled
guilty to over 20 cases of fraud; their sentence will be determined
in late-October 2009.

PIMS' ADVERSE TOOL: Since the NIV program's upgrade to 4.06 in late
July, the ADVERSE tool for PIMS has become an extremely valuable
tool in Post's fraud prevention toolbox. Currently, at least five
petitions have been marked as ADVERSE in the NIV system and are in
the process of being revoked.

(C)IV FRAUD: N/A.

(D)DV FRAUD: N/A.

(E) ACS AND U.S. PASSPORT FRAUD

CERTIFICATES OF NATURALIZATION: From March-September, Israeli
airport immigration officials referred to FPU and ACS seven cases
involving problematic Certificates of Naturalization. These
certificates list the holder's nationality, but not their place of
birth, enabling them to conceal their true POB. The seven cases
involved naturalized U.S. citizens who had concealed their Israeli
nationality, changed their POB and, on some occasions, altered their
names when they applied for their first U.S. passport. Some
Americans claim they obtained their U.S. passports with false POBs
in order to protect themselves from potential terrorists. Further,
according to Israeli law, an Israeli citizen is obliged to
depart/enter Israel with their Israeli passport. By holding a
foreign passport, and misrepresenting their POB, they may be
attempting to conceal their Israeli departures/entries for several
reasons: 1) to qualify for Israeli social security benefits, which
are generally only granted to Israelis living in Israel (there may
be exceptions for citizens abroad); 2) to avoid stop orders/
criminal records, which are not tracked on their foreign passports;
3) to evade the mandatory draft; and 4) to avoid the bother of
carrying/maintaining two sets of travel documents. At any rate,
these cases do not appear to be linked to any serious criminality or
terrorism. Still, we continue to be skeptical of the stories people
use to justify the "errors"; ACS, FPU and RSO/DS continue to
investigate these cases. Because the DS-11 form does not require a
recently-naturalized Amcit to present a birth certificate or other
evidence documenting POB, Post will likely continue to see cases of
falsified POBs.

EGG AND SPERM DONATION: This continues to be an issue at Post, with
another three cases seen during the past summer (see REFTEL B). All
three cases involved dual-national U.S.-Israeli single mothers over
the age of 40, who became pregnant using donated eggs and sperm.
Per 7 FAM 1446.2-2, without "a legal and literal biological/genetic
relationship," the mothers are unable to transmit U.S. citizenship
to their children. Because these children do not fall under any of
the Immigrant Visa categories, such families may become "stuck" in
Israel with no avenue for legal residence in the United States.

FRAUDULENT PHYSICAL PRESENCE DOCUMENTS: One of ACS' key concerns is
the presentation of fraudulent physical presence documents for CRBA
cases under INA Sections 301 and 309. In section 301(c)
transmissions, the definition of "residence" in the United States
has not been fully or specifically defined by CA or the INA.
However, Post received CA guidance that work, study or birth in the
United States constitutes residence, whereas vacationing or visiting
family in the United States does not constitute residence. In
several CRBA cases involving sections 301 and 309, the family
attempting to document a child as a U.S. citizen submitted incorrect
Affidavits of Physical Presence and/or falsified documents in order
to "prove" that a parent had resided in the United States. The
most commonly forged documents are school letters, transcripts,
report cards and letters purportedly from neighbors.

FALSE ADDRESSES ON SSN APPLICATIONS: ACS occasionally encounters
falsified addresses on SS-5 (Social Security Number) applications.
During the past year, our two FBU claims representatives and an ACS
FSN caught about a dozen SS-5 applications that listed a falsified
address that falls under Post's consular district. In reality, the
applicant's true address belongs to CONGEN Jerusalem's district; the
falsified address enables the applicant to avoid applying for SSA
services there. In questionable cases, for proof of residence, FBU
now asks applicants to submit a utility bill or bank statement that
has been mailed to their home address as proof.

(F) ADOPTION FRAUD: N/A.

(G) DNA TESTING: N/A.

(H) ASYLUM AND OTHER DHS BENEFIT FRAUD: NOTHING TO REPORT.

(I) ALIEN SMUGGLING, TRAFFICKING, ORGANIZED CRIME

NEPALESE FRAUD AND TRAFFICKING: Israel has a high number of third
country nationals working in professions such as agriculture and
care-giving. Thus, Post has seen a dramatic increase in Nepalese
nationals (as well as nationals from the Philippines and India)
applying for visas to the United States for tourism, accompanying
disabled or elderly employers and as volunteers. Post soon
discovered that the Nepalese nationals who had been granted visas
were either applying for asylum upon their arrival in the United
States or staying in the United States illegally. It could well be
that some of these Nepalese nationals are really Tibetans-we are
unable to prove this theory. A July ADIS check of Nepalese who were
issued visas showed that 20 of 36 overstayed their visas (8 could
not be found, 1 extension and there were 8 timely departures). Due
to these findings, visa issuances to third-country nationals were
reduced, particularly the Nepalese, going from an approval rate of
47 percent from January-June 2008 to 12.5 percent for the same
period in 2009.

As part of this fraud trend, a large group of Nepalese care-givers
applied for visas claiming that they were traveling on an organized
tour to Dallas, TX sponsored by a disabled Israeli. The Nepalese
applicants claimed that they had voluntarily provided this Israeli
with assistance every weekend and, as compensation, he was taking
them all to the United States. Some of them also said he was paying
for their lodging and expenses, while others said they would be
paying for all their expenses. These Nepalese allegedly paid large
sums of money as "finder's fees" to the sponsor of their Israeli
residency, on the assumption they would eventually move onward to
other countries. As expected, no formal employment link could be
established between this Israeli and these Nepalese care-giver
applicants. Since they had weak ties to Israel, low salaries and
no previous travel history, all of them were refused 214(b). After
these refusals, the Israeli "sponsor" failed to appear for his own
scheduled visa interview. After FPU and ARSO-I referred this
suspected trafficking case to the GOI, it tentatively agreed to
prosecute the smuggler(s).
Another possible connection to this suspected trafficking is a
relatively sophisticated scam involving a Nepalese "volunteer"
program. Two Nepalese applied for B1/B2 visas in order to take
advantage of a "volunteer opportunity" to provide care-giving
services to Americans. They submitted letters written in excellent
English describing the U.S. program and their potential
responsibilities. Like the above group of Nepalese, they were
refused 214(b).

FRAUDULENT ISRAELI AGRICULTURAL STUDY/TRAINING PROGRAM: A Laotian
"student" applied for an F-1 visa to study English at the Wisconsin
English Second Language Institute; as part of his qualifications, he
said he was participating in an agricultural study/training program
in Israel. Upon additional interviewing, he eventually admitted
that he and about 50-60 other South East Asian nationals had been
brought to Israel under the auspices of an official agricultural
study/training program, but were actually working long hours every
day on a farm and not studying. He said he was forced to work
anywhere from 10-17 hours per day for about 2,000 NIS/month ($500
USD) and that over half of his salary was turned back to the owners
of the farm to pay for a non-existent "teacher" and for a return
ticket home. Typical of trafficking programs' MO, he also said he
had paid for his ticket from Vientiane to Israel ($900). FPU
entered lookouts and watch phrases in the CCD for "Moshav Side
David" and "Moshav Seed David" and other associated names. Upon
Post's referral, the GOI accepted this for prosecution of human
trafficking.

ERITREAN-COLOMBIA SMUGGLING: Post was notified that large numbers
of Eritreans were applying for Colombian visas in Israel and that
all of them had been smuggled or had entered Israel via the porous
Sinai border. Initially, about eight Eritreans applied for visas to
travel to Colombia from here, producing likely fraudulent bank
statements "proving" that they possessed sufficient funds. Soon
after these visas were issued, twenty more Eritreans appeared at the
Colombian Embassy; at this point, the Colombian consul decided to
contact Bogota and was instructed to stop issuing visas to
Eritreans. Post suspects that they were traveling to Colombia in
order to attempt to illegally enter the United States.

ORGANIZED CRIME: FPU and FPM are in the process of compiling an
extensive list of organized crime families and their members,
checking to see whether any of them have visas. Some visas were
revoked on the basis of an undisclosed criminal history;
unfortunately, due to Israel's policies, many organized criminals
are "clean." When this data gathering process has been finished,
Post plans to draft a cable on this important issue of concern.

(J) DS CRIMINAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

Post's ARSO/I continues to provide noteworthy assistance to our
fraud prevention efforts. Among many other things, the ARSO-I has
been crucial to the process of convincing the GOI to accept fraud
cases for prosecution.

(K) HOST COUNTRY PASSPORT, IDENTITY DOCUMENTS AND CIVIL REGISTRY

Legislative delays continue to plague Israel's development of a
biometric database, which would include identification cards and
passports.

(L) COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES

Post's contacts with host government officials in the Ministry of
Interior, Israeli National Police, Border Patrol, Airport officials
and the Israeli Defense Forces continue to be robust.

An Israeli court recently approved the extradition of brothers Meir
and Itzhak Abergil (of their eponymous crime family) to the United
States to face charges of drug dealing, extortion, money-laundering
and murder. The brothers are in the process of appealing the
court's approval to the Israeli Supreme Court.

(M) AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN: NONE, OTHER THAN AS MENTIONED
ABOVE.

(N) STAFFING AND TRAINING

In June, the FPU team met with airline station managers at Ben
Gurion Airport to discuss the Carrier Liaison Program. In July, FPU
provided introductory training to US Airways check-in agents, as
they had just established flights to/from Tel Aviv. The
introductory training involved presentations aimed at familiarizing
airline staff with U.S. documents and visas and a session on
impostor detection.

FPU Tel Aviv continues to regularly share information and resources
with FPU Jerusalem; likewise for Tel Aviv's ARSO/I and Jerusalem's
RSO office.

Tel Aviv's FPU consists of a Fraud Prevention Manager (Deputy Consul
General and NIV Chief Wendy Vincent), a full-time Fraud Prevention
Assistant (Ariella Shamash), an ELO who handles the daily fraud
portfolio, and two NIV FSN backups for the Fraud Prevention
Assistant.

FPU provided one-on-one fraud training to two newly arrived ELOs in
this reporting period.

CUNNINGHAM

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