Cablegate: Fraud Summary - Lagos
DE RUEHOS #0487/01 3630745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD03DEE3 MSI1629-695)
R 290745Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1132
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0438
UNCLAS LAGOS 000487
C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
DEPT FOR CA/FPP, DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
DEPT PASS TO KCC WILLIAMSBURG KY
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC NI
SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY - LAGOS
REF A: 08 STATE 74840; B: 09 STATE 57623
1. (SBU) Background: Nigeria covers 356,669 sq miles and has a
population of approximately 149 million. The major languages are
English (official), Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. Approximately 60% of
the population is below the poverty line for Nigeria. The current
GDP is 1,500 dollars, and the inflation rate is 8.2%. This high
poverty rate, coupled with the population pressures, induces
large-scale migration. Post's adjusted refusal rate for NIVs is
31.25%, for IVs it is 44% (including adoption and DV cases, which
make up 1/3 of post's IV workload).
2. (U) Nigeria has all of the high risk factors for passport and
visa fraud, including lax identity document control; poor or
nonexistent records for feeder documents such as birth certificates;
powerful pull factors such as poverty and a large expatriate
diaspora that encourage emigration; and endemic fraud and corruption
at all levels of society.
The lack of controls and a high incidence of bribery that permeates
every level of society create an environment where anything and
everything is available and for sale. With enormous hunger for
visas as an escape route, documents that cannot be trusted, and
internal security conditions that make post anti-fraud investigative
travel expensive and difficult, Lagos is a high-fraud Post.
3. (U) The NIV Unit continues to see a wide variety of fraudulent
documents submitted to create the impression of an established
travel history as well as financial and familial stability.
4. (SBU) The most common fraud is simple document fraud. Fake
employment letters, bank statements, conference registrations and
educational certificates are found on a daily, almost hourly basis
on the NIV line. The suspicious documents button could be selected
for most applicants. Effectively the Conoff will elicit
inconsistent and unconvincing statements and applicants are refused
at the window. Only 2% of Lagos FPU cases are referred by NIV.
5. (U) Post continues to aggressively pursue a program for
discovery and prosecution (arrest referral) of applicants holding
fraudulent third country visas and fake entry stamps. By collecting
and disseminating detection points and equipment (loops and UV
lights) to line officers, Post has discovered cases of third country
visa fraud. Working in tandem with RSO, these cases have ended in
the arrest of the applicants by the Special Fraud Unit of the
Nigerian Police. All face prosecution under local fraud statutes.
6. (U) These fake third country visas run the gamut of
counterfeiting tactics and print sophistication. In some of these
cases the applicant was able to travel to the target country using
the fraudulent document. Genuine civil and identity documents are
relatively easy to acquire by fraudulent means here in Nigeria, but
falsifying a record of foreign travel remains more difficult. As
such, these TCN visas remain one of the most consistently reliable
mechanisms for detecting fraudulent applicants and applications.
7. (SBU) Chinese, Australian, Indian, Malaysian, Turkish, Kenyan,
Equatorial Guinean, and Brazilian fake visas have all also been
discovered at Post, and most of these on multiple occasions. In
many cases, applicants admit in secondary interviews with FPU to
having paid substantial sums, in one case several thousand U.S.
dollars, for the visas. In other cases, applicants contend the
visas were provided in exchange for favors, to be determined upon
8. (U) Post maintains an extensive exemplar library of these finds,
scanned and ready to share with other missions and agencies on
request. Post continues to strengthen ties to other Missions in the
community in order to verify suspicious documents.
9. (SBU) F1 Fraud: Student visas remain a popular target for those
seeking entry to the U.S. Counterfeit West African Examination
Council (WAEC) certificates (WAEC is roughly equivalent to the SAT,
and is the main basis for demonstrating educational qualification
for a DV, for example) continue to be a tactic for fraudulent
students looking to establish their bona fides. Typically someone
else will take the exam under the applicant's name. Questioning the
applicant remains the primary means of exposing the imposter test
taker. Post also continues to verify WAEC scores online.
10. (U) This reporting period, Post saw one U.S. SAT imposter. The
applicant confessed and the SAT agent was exposed. The case was
referred to the Nigerian Special Fraud Unit for further action.
11. (U) In another student visa case, an applicant posed as a
government employee on scholarship. Documents purportedly from
Local Government Authorities were confirmed fraudulent by FPU. The
Local Government Council confirmed that the applicant was not and
has never been an employee, as claimed.
12. (SBU) During the reporting period, Diplomatic Security and ICE
investigated a marriage fraud/smuggling ring operating out of the
U.S. The applicants applied for B-1/B-2 visas to attend a
conference with Allied Consulting and Educational Partnership in
conjunction with the Globe Program. When the applicants obtained
visas and arrived in the U.S., they were matched up with American
wives and filed to change status. They successfully did this for 21
applicants last year, none of whom returned to Nigeria. The subject
in the U.S. is affiliated with the University of North Texas. Post
has compiled a list of course participants and samples of the
invitation letters and placed a lookout in CLASS. ARSO-I interviews
revealed that most of the applicants are low level government
employees who claimed a higher position or more skills than they
actually have. Five applicants confessed and were arrested by the
Nigerian Police; the police investigation continues. Applicants
admitted paying upwards of $5,300 for the document package and
NIV VALIDATION STUDY
13. (SBU) In early 2009, Lagos FPU conducted a validation study of
B1/B2 visas. The study looked at over 1000 randomly selected cases
dating from 2005. Of those cases, 90% returned, 5% overstayed and
1.4% adjusted status. The remaining cases were inconclusive or
14. (SBU) The percentage of B1/B2s that returned in the study was
higher than expected, suggesting that Post may need to refine
NIV-related interviewing and anti-fraud training to focus on
narrower categories of greater-risk applicants. Post's overall NIV
refusal rate remains at approximately 30%, due to a continuing high
level of document fraud and large numbers of weak F-1 applicants.
This was the first validation study post conducted in four years.
Post plans an aggressive schedule of NIV validation studies over the
coming year to help us refine our NIV adjudications.
15. (U) Post has compiled the information for these studies using
the methodology standardized by CA/FPP and the reporting functions
of CCD and the AdHoc system to generate the appropriate reports.
The reports have been submitted to the ADIS/USVISIT system through
the appropriate channels.
16. (U) Financial scams - known as '419' scams, after the section
of the Nigerian penal code relating to financial crime - continue to
be an issue for ACS and a major burden to the correspondence unit at
Post. The ACS Unit receives a daily average of 13 inquiries through
e-mail and telephone from American citizens as well as citizens from
other countries who have been defrauded by Nigerians posing as
romantic interests, Americans in distress, or lawyers trying to
disburse a settlement or inheritance. Some of these American
citizens have sent large sums of money to Nigeria. Post has
developed FAQs and a script to help duty officers and others handle
419 calls and has shared these with OCS. We provide resources for
419 victims on our website and track 419 calls using the Crisis
17. (U) U.S. passport fraud continues to be a moderate risk. The
great majority of DS-11 applicants are dual-national minors.
Typical profiles are first-time applicants born in Nigeria;
U.S.-born first-time applicants in their late teens or early
twenties, who have never been issued a U.S. passport; and U.S.-born
renewals whose only passport was issued when they were an infant.
For such applications post requests original birth certificates,
photos of the applicant showing age progression, and questions
applicants and parents separately.
18. (U) A German consular attach at the Lagos airport caught a
Nigerian woman attempting to use a U.S. passport to board a
Germany-bound flight. Upon questioning, the woman was not able to
describe the passport application process, her life in the United
States, the lengths of the flights to and from Germany or the U.S.,
or other details. The official seized the passport and turned it
over to the ConGen Lagos. The true passport holder, reached in the
U.S., later confirmed that her passport had been stolen a few weeks
previously, and seemed shocked that her passport had turned up in
Nigeria; the Germans, noting the resemblance between the fraudulent
bearer and the photograph, suspected the true bearer had lent it to
a relative. Unfortunately the impostor fled the airport and no
picture or identity was obtained from her.
19. (U) The majority of CRBA applications are for children with one
American citizen parent, often who is resident in the United States,
not present to apply, and who has minimal evidence of a relationship
with the mother. Post encountered no instances of outright CRBA
fraud, but unreliable local vital records documents and the fact
that the Amcit parent is rarely available for interview make this a
continuing risk for post.
20. (U) Marriage into the large Nigerian-American community in the
U.S. has been by far the most common path to American residency for
Nigerians seeking legal and illegal emigration. An overwhelming
percentage of post's petition-based IVs are marriage-based (IR-1 and
K-1s especially). Nigerian law and custom recognizes three types of
marriage - traditional, religious and civil - all of which are valid
for immigration purposes and which involve different customs,
procedures and participants. These factors, in addition to poor
civil records, corrupt courts that issue divorce decrees, and
Nigerian naming conventions that permit applicants to add or drop
names easily, make such cases extremely susceptible to fraud.
21. (SBU) Post's IV Unit referred a total of 480 IV cases (3 %) to
FPU in FY09. As such, Post recommends 1.5% of all IV cases for
revocation. Cases reported fraudulent are refused under section
22. (U) Marriage fraud can involve entire communities. Family
members are informed of the pending application and collaborate to
deceive consular investigators. To elicit facts, investigators
employ courtesy and easily blend in with communities. The questions
asked by investigators must constantly change. Therefore,
investigators cannot rely on the same formula for every case.
23. (SBU) Investigators are creative in finding evidence of a
hidden marital relationship at the applicant's true residence. For
example, in a CR1 case, the investigator found a Bible in the
applicant's home inscribed "Mr. and Mrs. (and the family name)"
inside. Further evidence included other books with her listed as
Mrs., she wore a wedding ring and men's clothing in the closet.
24. (U) So that investigators can more easily blend into the
communities where they work, FPU consciously recruits investigators
with regional linguistic skills. Interviews are mostly conducted in
English; however, confessions and stories are often obtained in
25. (U) Document fraud, especially divorce decrees, is a
significant element in IV marriage fraud (Ref B) FPU continues to
verify divorce decrees when it is a determining factor for a
26. (U) In the reporting period, FPU assisted DOJ with a pending
naturalization case in Pennsylvania. Through several visits t
sites throughout Lagos, FPU was confirmed that the divorce documents
provided by te subject at the court hearing were not genuine, and
that the subject was still married in Nigeria. With this
information DOJ was able to deny the naturalization and the subject
27. (SBU) Nigeria is one of the top diversity visa (DV) countries
worldwide. In FY08, Lagos adjudicated 5,678 DVs, over 1/3 of post's
IV workload. In DVs as in other IVs, relationship fraud is the
chief vulnerability. In particular, Lagos line officers are
confronted with many "clip-on" spouses: sudden "marriages" which
occur after an applicant is notified that they have won the DV
lottery. From March to August, Post found 108 DV applicants
ineligible under 212(a)(6)(e) for claiming fraudulent spouses on
their DV applications.
28. (SBU) FPU has developed several techniques to uncover fraudulent
DV marriages and the facilitators behind them. Before the
interview, line officers examine the forms. Fraud indicators to
watch are a "care of" address - which is often that of the visa
fixer -- the mailing address, the contact address in the U.S., and
the handwriting. Late night calls to the applicant's home often
prove to be an effective investigation technique, as the "married"
couple often lives separately.
29. (U) Another highly successful investigative tool is Lagos FPU's
collection of wedding albums filled with staged wedding photographs
submitted by applicants. By spotting the actors repeatedly posing
as guests and family members at supposedly unrelated marriage
ceremonies, FPU has been able to identify several DV fraud
facilitator cells. Post had adopted a pre-interview "album check"
so adjudicating officers have the benefit of this intelligence
before the applicants were called to the IV window. Unfortunately,
the facilitators quickly adapted and have largely moved away from
staged photos, so the mandatory check was dropped, though suspicious
photos may still be compared to the album library.
30. (U) Where do clip-on spouses come from? From touts operating
out of internet cafes and other parts of the well-established local
DV assistance service industry. As internet penetration is still
relatively low in Nigeria and costs are high, the gap has been
filled by a proliferation of commercial cyber cafs. Cyber cafs
advertise for people, usually single, to pay to have an agent assist
them to submit a DV entry. An agent will then submit his/her own
address instead of the applicant's true return address on entry
form. If the entrant wins, he/she is contacted by the agent, who
matches them with a spouse.
31. (U) The touts collude with the cyber cafes and even advertisers
and the media to vary computers to ensure certain IP addresses are
not overly used, to attract new customers, and ward off competition.
For example, post recorded a podcast on how to apply for the DV
program, stressing that applicants did not need to hire agents to
apply and warning against fraud in DV applications. We hoped to get
it run as a public service announcement on Nigerian radio. The
radio stations turned it down, however, because they could get paid
advertising from the touts and cyber cafes.
32. (U) Post is constantly on alert for the little details that can
expose a fraudulent case. A backdated marriage certificate was
proven fraudulent by examining photographic evidence of the
ceremony. DV1 was interviewed separately in FPU, claiming a bona
fide marriage to DV2. In examining her wedding album, the
investigator observed with the aid of a magnifying glass that her
traditional marriage pictures were taken with a 2009 calendar in the
background, disproving her claim that the couple married in April
33. (U) The FPU daily conducts split interviews with the principal
applicant and the derivatives, and the results are remarkable. This
allows a more in-depth analysis of the claimed relationship, while
at the same time freeing up time for the IV officers to handle more
cases. Short of a field investigation, the split interview
technique continues to provide the most facts regarding applicants'
34. (U) Post made administrative changes in scheduling FPU split
interviews. As there is a heavier caseload at the end of the DV
year, Lagos now schedules immediate interviews until space is
filled, instead of having applicants return at a later date. The
FPM also added the responsibility of interviewing to the analyst
position thereby increasing staff availability. These changes
ensured timely adjudication throughout the DV year. In FY09 49% of
IV cases referred to FPU were found fraudulent. Conoffs continue to
be effective in their decisions of which cases to refer.
35. (SBU) Since March, Lagos has conducted 70 Nigerian IR-3
adoption field investigations. Almost half were in the
Igbo-speaking eastern region. This is the home region of the
majority of Nigerian-Americans and, as a predominantly Christian
area, state authorities tend to be more amenable to adoption than in
Muslim-dominated states. Travel to the entire region is dangerous
and expensive, and requires COM approval for three of the states.
Given the number of cases and priority post places on adoption
investigations, we hope to arrange trips at least twice per year.
Although in the past it has been a restricted area, FPU will also
accept cases from security level four states. This period, 20
adoption cases were closed out from this region, in some cases after
pending as long as two years.
36. (SBU) FPU's adoption-related caseload has fluctuated in recent
years: 33 cases in FY 07, 148 in FY 08, 109 in FY09. There are
several reasons: an overall rise in adoption case numbers in
Nigeria; in early 2008, post made it a priority to clear out a
backlog of pending I-604 investigations; and post streamlined
procedures for line officers to refer cases to FPU. Security
restrictions highlighted in the Nigeria Travel Warning make travel
to Nigeria's eastern states is expensive: a September 2009 trip to
do ACS outreach and adoption-related fraud investigations for four
days cost post over USD 14,000. Post strives to plan quarterly
trips to the region, but these are not always possible for
logistical or budgetary reasons. Post has designated two line
officers and an FPU investigator to specialize in Nigerian adoption
procedures in an effort to resolve those cases that can be done
without a full field investigation.
37. (U) In June, FPU Investigator Ijeoma Ndurue traveled to four
eastern Nigeria states to conclude 30 adoption cases; he found fraud
in 11 of them.
38. (U) The adoption fraud seen at post generally does not involve
falsified documents or outright baby selling. Typical cases involve
relatives attempting to adopt a well cared for nephew, niece or
sibling who would not meet the INA orphan definition. We do
occasionally encounter more egregious cases.
39. (U) In one case, the guardians of two legitimately adopted
children added their own child to the adoption orders. The
investigator visited the guardians' home and discovered the
guardians lived with the two adoptive children and one child of
their own. The neighbor corroborated that the guardians intended to
send their own daughter to the U.S.
40. (U) In another case, post confirmed that local authorizes
improperly issued genuine adoption orders. The court registrar
verified the papers. The issue of whether it is permissible for an
unmarried person to adopt children of the opposite sex was put to
the registrar. She stated that such an adoption is not allowed by
law and suggested that the girls are his blood relatives and he is
adopting them for immigration purposes. There is also the issue of
the Petitioner being a Catholic Reverend Father. It is inconsistent
with the status of a Reverend Father to purport to be a parent by
way of adoption. Further, Abia State Law says that it is
unacceptable for an unmarried man to adopt girls. In conclusion,
the adoption is not valid and the applicants are ineligible for a
visa. This request for investigation came from the Department of
41. (SBU) DNA testing has proven an invaluable tool in the
deterrence of fraud. There are many instances where the evidence of
relationship that would allow officers to make their decisions is
unreliable, destroyed, or simply not available. Family photography,
aside from the occasional posed studio portrait, did not become
widespread until the late 1970s and early 1980s, and birth
certificates have no security features to speak of and can be
obtained easily. During this reporting period, the buccal swab
samples were collected by an IV LES at the clinic where the required
visa medical examinations were conducted. This duty rotated around
the section. The Consulate sent the samples to the laboratory and
the notarized results were returned directly to the Consulate via
courier. Over a six month period in 2008, DNA testing was suggested
for roughly 1,004 visa applicants. In the last year, less than 10
negative DNA results came in. Post does not anticipate a
significant change in DNA testing results due to the new guidelines.
The only changes that will impact the applicants are the location
and the payment procedure. Payments for DNA are now made through
banks as opposed to clinics.
42. (U) The need for DNA testing is illustrated in this example. A
DV applicant brought in a clip on spouse and new baby. The line
officer requested DNA testing for mother and baby. While at the
clinic to pick up the results, an LES happened to see another woman
breastfeeding the baby. The DNA results were confirmed negative for
both the DV1 and DV2. The applicant confessed and was found
ineligible under 212(a)(6)(E) for attempting to smuggle a DV3.
43. (U) DNA testing has been especially useful in IRs/CRs and F4
cases and less useful in IR5 cases. Few if any IR5s returned with
negative DNA or unfinished testing. The section is currently
undergoing a statistical analysis of DNA findings. A tracking
spreadsheet has been created and is being updated to show the
processing of each case in the first half of 2008 in which DNA is
requested. As a result of this study, we hope to produce accurate
statistics to show how many applicants do not proceed with DNA and
also the percentage of negative DNA results. We hope to have this
study finished in the next few months. Applicants who know their
relationship is not bona fide, in general, do not follow through
with the DNA testing. Post has encountered several recent cases
where a principal applicant was asked to do a DNA test with a
derivative child, only for the principal applicant to return to the
Consulate and say that they changed their mind - they don't want the
child to travel after all. As the principal applicant (PA) has by
this point executed a visa application for the derivative, the PA is
told there will be no visa issuance until the requested DNA testing
is completed. In some cases, the principal applicant acquiesces and
the DNA results are negative, resulting in a 6E finding. Other
principal applicants attempt to remove the problematic child by
'killing them off' on paper - bringing in a fraudulent death
certificate. FPU investigation into these documents reveals the
fraud, and the end result is still a 6E.
44. (U) DHS Transportation Letter requests now average about 10 per
month. Previously, most applicants presented letters stating that
they were robbed or lost them. Lately, they commonly claim to have
left their Green Cards in the U.S. Three applicants who were issued
Transportation Letters this summer applied for new Transportation
letters at post in September. They traveled to the U.S., returned
to Nigeria without obtaining new Green Cards, but all presented
documentation that they applied for replacements. Post enjoys a
good relationship with DHS in Accra and receives quick responses to
LPR status inquiries.
45. (U) FPU receives and processes investigation requests from
USCIS District Adjudicating Officers to verify documents, mostly
divorce decrees, submitted for many different types of petitions in
the United States. Lagos closed 112 DHS cases this period.
Forty-five percent of these resulted in a report of fraud.
ALIEN SMUGGLING AND TRAFFICKING
46. (U) In both the IV and NIV section we see frequent attempts at
alien smuggling, whether through a sham marriage or the addition of
an extra child to an existing visa application. In some cases it is
merely a member of the extended family who does not have a legal
claim to the immigration benefit. However, in some cases, such as
the frequent DV "clip-ons", there is a financial motivation; someone
has agreed to pay in order to have that person added to an
otherwise-legitimate application. From March to August, 108
applicants were found 6e.
47. (U) The Consular Section in general and the FPU in particular
work closely with the ARSO-I assigned to Lagos. Unfortunately, the
reporting period saw a gap between the departure of the outgoing
ARSO-I in early June and the arrival of the current ARSO-I in late
August. ARSO-I Cases are referred to the ARSO-I from the IV, NIV,
and ACS units, with the referral documented in the notes for the
case. The ARSO-I has aided us in pursuing marriage fraud rings
stateside through his U.S.-based DS contacts, and here in Lagos he
has been pursuing the vendors of the fraudulent documents presented
in interviews. His close working relationship with the Special
Fraud Unit and the Special Intelligence Branch of the Nigerian
federal police has resulted in the arrest of a number of fraudulent
applicants. Through spot reports he keeps the consular section
informed of the outcomes of the referred cases. The ARSO-I also
takes referrals from the FPU in cases requiring complex
investigations, those with a criminal nexus in the U.S., or cases
requiring liaison with local law enforcement. The ARSO-I and the
FPM have a strong working relationship and often collaborate on
interviews, investigations and training. The ARSO-I and the FPM
also benefit from the strong support of the Consular Chief and the
Regional Security Officer. During the reporting period, Diplomatic
Security authorized and post approved the creation of a new
FSN-Investigator position to be filled in FY2010. The new FSN-I
will work exclusively for the ARSO-I. This addition, along with the
new consular investigator discussed below, will greatly enhance the
investigative capabilities of the ARSO-I and, by extension, the
HOST COUNTRY DOCUMENTS
48. (U) While Nigeria has recently updated its passport design to
incorporate a microchip in accordance with the international
e-passport standards, the older design remains valid and in
circulation. It consists of a biodata page encased in plastic,
UV-reactant features, and the passport number punched into the top
edge of the inside pages.
49. (U) The new e-passport incorporates other security features in
addition to the microchip. It includes holographic and UV-reactant
features and each visa page in the booklet has the passport number
punched into the outside edge. It is important to note that, while
the document itself may appear more secure, the underlying process
in order to obtain the passport remains highly flawed. Applicants
for a Nigerian passport must submit a national identification card
or a birth certificate, fraudulent versions of which are easily
obtained locally. Applicants must also submit an affidavit from a
'guarantor' who will attest to their good character. Attempts by
Nigerian immigration to use biometrics collection to enhance
passport security are hampered by the absence of a networked
database to allow comparison between passport offices. Even with
the additional security features, the Nigerian passport remains
highly susceptible to fraud.
50. (U) Post has found numerous cases in which the new E series
passports have serious quality control issues, i.e. lack of laminate
on the biodata page. Each case is referred for verification to the
Nigerian Immigration Service and in cases involving legitimate
quality control problems applicants are required to obtain a new E
series passport. An updated dossier on E series detection points is
available from Post on request.
51. (U) As a result of these continuing problems with Nigerian
passport security, Post continues to review all passports using the
AssureID document checker.
52. (U) Nigerian passport numbers are often reused. A high number
of legitimate Nigerian passports seen on the line have been
previously reported lost/stolen by the Nigerian authorities. Lagos
sees a dozen or more of these cases on a weekly basis in NIV. There
are no fraud indicators, and often, applicants who have prior good
travel on a previous passport have received one of these passports.
Each case usually returns a Lost/Stolen PPT hit in CLASS due to the
53. (U) Nigerian civil documents have essentially no modern
security features. Marriage certificates vary widely in appearance
between issuing jurisdictions. Marriage certificates and birth
certificates are both printed on plain paper with biographic
information added by hand. Such documents are quite easy to
counterfeit, and frequently are. In addition, controls and
oversight in government offices are such that for sufficient payment
a person can fraudulently obtain authentic versions of virtually any
government document. For example, FPU research has shown that
authentic divorce decrees signed by a particular registrar are
almost invariably obtained fraudulently. In light of the prevalence
and ease of civil document forgery in Nigeria, local documents are
largely discounted in the visa adjudication process unless they are
authenticated at the source and supported with ample personal
evidence in an interview.
COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT
54. (U) The FPU has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Nigerian
Police Department for many years, referring cases to them where
Nigerian laws have been broken. The Special Fraud Unit has aided in
the arrest of applicants who have presented fraudulent documents, as
well as tracking down the document vendors.
55. (SBU) The FPU has also enjoyed years of support from local
governments, schools and marriage registries in our verifications of
documents. Lately, however, FPU investigators have been harassed by
the National Population Commission to provide money for
verifications, usually 10,000 Naira, the equivalent of about 70 U.S.
dollars. This is apparently a revenue collecting scheme on the part
of the National Population Commission. In some cases, the working
relationship between the investigator and the official, with whom
they have dealt before, has meant the registrar could be persuaded
to waive the fee; many of these government officials, however, are
becoming more hard-line on this fee, making document verification a
56. (U) As a result of this, Lagos now requires applicants to get
certain documents verified themselves. This is a new practice and
it is not yet measured how this affects adjudication numbers. Some
letters of verification have themselves turned out to be
STAFFING AND TRAINING
57. (U) The Lagos FPU consists of a Fraud Prevention Manager, two
LES Fraud Investigators, an LES Fraud Analyst, and an ELO part-time
fraud assistant. This includes one newly hired full-time LES
Consular Investigator. The new investigator has been an invaluable
addition, particularly in conducting split interviews for the DV
program. Post has recently developed an FPU Travel Plan for FY2010
to establish a schedule for investigations to be conducted by the
Consular Investigators. The fraud analyst has completed the on-line
writing lab course and will apply for the March fraud prevention
training at FSI. Also, Lagos welcomed a new ARSO-I at the end of
August. The new ARSO-I will continue the training efforts of his
predecessor, who departed post in June.
58. (U) From March to September, a Lagos investigator conducted a
field investigation each month; twice an ELO investigated by proxy.
During that time, 160 cases were investigated outside of Lagos.
59. (U) Despite a staffing shortage, the Lagos FPU's caseload for
Lagos area investigations has been drastically reduced. From March
to September the unit closed out approximately 230 Lagos cases with
the help of ELOs. Post currently has about 35 Lagos cases pending
and hopes to further reduce cases to those aged one week or less.
Locations require a motorpool driver and vehicle, and traffic delays
prolong trips. Terrible road and weather conditions constantly
challenge investigations. Measures are now in place to prevent such
60. (U) The unit continues to brief incoming line officers. In
June, FPU held a training session for the Consular Section.
Training covered the entire spectrum of work relating to fraud
prevention and its management. Also, in September Lagos hosted the
Abuja Fraud Prevention Manager and an LES from Cape Town for fraud
LIAISON and OUTREACH
61. (SBU) Post has also made significant progress in establishing
new working relationships with host government agencies and other
missions in order to further our fraud prevention initiatives. In
May, the German Consulate hosted the local fraud group. Meetings
are every six months and are an especially effective vessel for
meeting counterparts and sharing techniques to deter fraud.
62. (U) Post continues to pursue an aggressive policy of referring
confirmed cases of sophisticated identity and document fraud
(particularly TCN visas and passports) to the local detachment of
Nigeria's Special Fraud Unit (SFU), an agency of the national police
force. While the SFU has been particularly responsive in
apprehending fraudulent applicants, police have offered little
information or evidence regarding these cases Post-arrest.
63. (SBU) There appears little evidence that SFU has coordinated
these investigations in aims of finding and prosecuting the
purveyors of the counterfeit visas and passports. In a few cases,
Post has reason to suspect that despite definitive evidence of
fraud, charges were never filed, the implication being that bribes
had been paid to resolve the matter. SFU has made no efforts to
raise the profile of these arrests in the media, further clouding
the utility of arrest referrals is discouraging the use of fake
visas and passports by the general population. In tandem with
Abuja's RSO and the ARSO-I in Lagos, Post continues to monitor and
review the arrest program. On a very positive note, Post has
noticed a reduction in the number of applicants who present fake TCN
visas, a fact that Post has attributed to the inception of this
cooperation with SFU.
64. (SBU) Post has one example in which an applicant applied for a
Swiss visa using a passport containing a fake visa from Equatorial
Guinea. The Swiss confiscated the passport and returned it to the
MFA. This same applicant has now applied for a US visa using the
same confiscated passport, evidenced by the Swiss stamp in the
passport. The Swiss Embassy has confirmed the facts of this case.
While this case does not involve the SFU, it raises concerns about
the lack of seriousness with which the use of fraudulent documents
in general is viewed by Nigerian authorities.