Cablegate: Calgary and Vancouver Fraud Summary February 2010
DE RUEHVC #0100/01 0540133
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230132Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL VANCOUVER
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0191
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0001
INFO RUEHVC/AMCONSUL VANCOUVER
UNCLAS VANCOUVER 000100
DEPT FOR CA/FPP
DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD ASEC CPAS CMGT CA
SUBJECT: CALGARY AND VANCOUVER FRAUD SUMMARY FEBRUARY 2010
REF: 08 STATE 074840
1. (U) SUMMARY. There are no significant fraud incidents to report
for this period. Note that this report is on behalf of Calgary and
Vancouver. End Summary.
2. (U) COUNTRY CONDITIONS. Vancouver and Calgary are low-fraud
posts. Malafide travelers find it less difficult to attempt entry
across the vast land border than apply for a visa. Vancouver,
Canada's third largest city, is one of the most affluent and
culturally diverse cities in North America. Recent immigrants from
Asian countries including India, China, the Philippines, Korea, and
Taiwan have flocked to the city in the past decade. In fact, a
third of the city is of Chinese origin and Vancouver International
Airport services daily flights from many Asian capitals. Eastern
Europeans and Russians have also moved to Vancouver recently in
significant numbers. Blaine, Washington, the closest land border,
is a mere thirty minutes by car from downtown.
3. (U) Recent economic development and population growth have led
to a skyrocketing real estate market and major ethnic diversity.
The migration from abroad has also brought in criminal elements and
Vancouver is becoming home to an increasing number of ethnic gangs.
Vancouver has the highest
density per square mile in the entire country. Foreign immigration
remains the principal growth factor, reflected in the fact that
less than half of all residents in the Vancouver area speak English
at home. The application process for Canadian documents, including
passports and local birth certificates, is fairly well-controlled.
Post has not seen cases of fake Canadian permanent resident card,
which has similar security features to
the U.S. legal permanent resident card. However, local authorities
recently acknowledged that counterfeiting is becoming a major
problem in the province and post has seen cases of individuals
obtaining British Columbia identification cards when they were not
entitled to them.
4. (U) NIV FRAUD. Vancouver and Calgary detected fraud most notably
in the H1B category.
5. (U) Although visitor visa (B1/B2) fraud appears less organized
and less complicated, there continues to be incidences where
applicants try to cover up prior orders of removal or unlawful
presence in the U.S. They do so by changing names or other
identifying information after leaving the U.S. and
entering Canada either as immigrants or asylum claimants. Usually,
these applicants have only recently arrived in Canada to seek legal
status after residing unlawfully in the U.S. for years. They will
also present brand-new passports to hide their previous travel. If
IAFIS and IDENT do not catch these applicants, their American
regional accent or better-than-average English will reveal that
they have been residing in the U.S. for a long time.
6. (U) Since Calgary and Vancouver rarely see first-time H1B
applicants who are not landed immigrants in Canada, there are
usually no concerns about an applicant's skill or experience.
7. (U) Most H1B fraud in Vancouver occurs when applicants come to
renew their H1B visas and the consular officers discover that they
are actually doing something other than working for their
Petitioner, or they have not been paid what they should and we
discover that they are being "benched". Vancouver has seen fewer
fraudulent H1B cases in this reporting period than in previous
periods. Since Vancouver started scrutinizing H1B cases more
heavily in 2008, post appears not to be targeted as being an "easy"
place to apply for H1B visas anymore. Post regularly requests
additional documentation, such as earnings and leave documents,
monthly bank statements, unemployment wage reports, and pay records
of applicants that have not earned the correct year-to-date
8. (U) Calgary has continued to work aggressively in the last
reporting period to identify possible H1-B fraud based on the
information that was promulgated by Toronto in 09 Toronto 000193.
Using the tools provided, Calgary has looked more effectively at
possible "benching" of applicants and has been able to better
respond to adverse PIMS reports prepared by Kentucky Consular
Center's (KCC) FPU. In these cases we have not developed any
clear-cut instances of fraud, but have been able to ask additional
questions to resolve inconsistencies and have hopefully avoided
visa shopping within the mission and applicants coming to Calgary
expecting a less thorough review of the applications. In addition,
the Local Fraud Investigator from Vancouver made a trip to Calgary
in January 2010 and shared H1B investigation methods used in
Vancouver. The Fraud Investigator was able to see what kind of
cases are appearing in Calgary and is now better able to assist
9. (U) Vancouver sees occasional fraud in treaty investor and
trader visa categories. Sometimes the fraud involves the
concealment of criminal ineligibilities that are usually revealed
in secondary inspection at the border when a CBP officer accesses
the applicant's Canadian criminal record. Other times, it appears
that the applicant is filing for an E visa so that their children
can attend school in the U.S. These applicants tend to be recently
naturalized Canadian citizens who are looking to start small
businesses in the U.S. while their children attend high school or
college there. They are generally refused for not meeting the
marginality requirement. Post has seen E applicants who were former
asylum seekers in the U.S. who buy a small business in the U.S.
upon becoming a Canadian citizen after three years of permanent
residency in Canada.
10. (U) Vancouver continues to monitor international student
applicants for possible fraud. Post conducted a validation study in
the last year for Mexicans who are on student status in Canada. The
results of the study seem to indicate that these students tend to
abide by the terms of their B1/B2 visas.
11. (U) IV FRAUD. Vancouver does not process immigrant visas but
does accept "clearly approvable" I-130 petitions. Post processes K
visas for applicants who are resident in the consular district.
K-visa applications are generally good with a few
immigration-purposes only cases.
12. (U) DV FRAUD. Calgary and Vancouver do not process DV visas.
13. (U) ACS AND PASSPORT FRAUD. As border controls strengthen and
visa applicants are more rigorously screened, post believes
attempted ACS and passport fraud will increase. One ACS fraud
scenario involves the creation of a false identity. Historically,
Canada has been a haven to Americans wishing to escape US
authorities. Consequently, the ACS Unit encounters several people
each year with outstanding warrants in the United States. New
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) passport requirements
for all travelers, as well as the fact that Citizenship &
Immigration Canada is now requiring Canadian permanent residents to
have a valid passport, means American fugitives, as well as others
seeking to cut ties with U.S., may try to assume false identities
in order to obtain national identification at the Consulate.
14. (U) Vancouver's FPM was informed by the 2010 Olympic Joint
Operations Center Supervisor of a possible U.S. passport fraud case
in British Columbia. Diplomatic Security in Bellingham was
informed by RCMP that a suspicious package was received at the
Burnaby, British Columbia UPS office. The UPS account had been
opened by a male with a U.S. passport and a Nevada driver's
license, which are presumably fraudulent. The package contained
solar panels. The passport number provided to FPU belongs to a
female from Ohio. We will continue to gather details from the
Vancouver Police Department investigation.
15. (U) In most of Calgary's ACS fraud cases, they have worked
directly with the appropriate domestic FPMs and CA to help resolve
questions. In fact, most potential cases have proven to be fairly
easily resolved. As an example, Calgary has had several cases
where applicants have denied having any previous lost or stolen
passports or even any previously issued passports, but name checks
revealed these claims to be incorrect. Similarly, many of
Calgary's fraud cases dealt with suspicions about possibly
questionable birth certificates. In all of these cases, the birth
certificates were satisfactorily verified.
16 (U) Vancouver reported in last period's fraud summary about an
American citizen resident on Vancouver Island who wished to renew
her passport from 1999, the first ever issued to her, because she
could not find out what happened to her mail-in renewal application
in the United States. Post discovered that there is a fraud-hold on
her case because the ID and social security number of the applicant
is reported as matching a woman who died in the 1970's. In
addition, the applicant purporting to be the American citizen
helped her daughter to get her first American passport in 2000.
Post was able to get the woman into the Consulate and take her
fingerprints. RSO sent the fingerprints to Seattle for analysis.
FPU has been informed that there is no criminal record associated
with the prints, so it is still unknown who the purported American
is. DS in Seattle has indicated that they do not intend to pursue a
case against the woman and post is waiting to hear if another DS
17. (U) Lost and stolen passports are numerous. Statistics are
difficult to compile, as many lost/stolen passports are either not
reported or are returned to authorities other than the Consulate.
Vancouver has a particular problem regarding stolen passports, as
it has one of the highest property theft rates of any urban area in
North America. More Americans carry passports now due to the WHTI
requirements, so we expect the number will continue to rise.
18. (U) The historically open US-Canadian border often makes
documenting physical presence in the United States difficult, if
not impossible. Neither side of the border stamps entries in US
passports. Proof of physical presence is, of course, required for
transmitting citizenship to Canadian-born children. Within the past
year, post has detected several individuals fabricating physical
presence claims in order to meet the time requirements. Some
applicants apply years after being refused an initial time,
submitting different data and hoping for a different ruling. For
this reason, posts very rarely accept affidavits as proof of
19. (U) Canadian authorities go to great lengths to conceal
adoptions on official records to protect individual privacy.
Biological parent information on birth documents is routinely
replaced with the details of the adopting parents with no evidence
that a change ever took place. This makes concealing
adoptions for the purposes of claiming derivative citizenship
fairly easy. Post must scrutinize birth documents very carefully
and always ask to see the "long" birth form, when available.
20. (U) ADOPTION FRAUD. No fraud to report.
21. (U) DNA TESTING. No DNA testing this reporting period.
22. (U) ASYLUM AND OTHER DHS BENEFITS FRAUD. No fraud to report.
23. (U) COOPERATION WITH HOST COUNTRY AUTHORITIES. Post enjoys a
good working relationship with authorities from all levels of the
host government. They are generally accessible and responsive to
24. (U) AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN. Given Vancouver's proximity to
the U.S. border, there are significant concerns that foreign
nationals view the region as a transit center for ultimate illegal
entry into the United States.
25. (U) Calgary is currently working with the Department on
reported incidents of internet scammers who are using apparently
photo-shopped American passports as proof of their identity to
would-be targets. While these documents do not appear to have been
used for travel (and most likely only exist in digital form), they
have been sent to people with whom they have developed contacts
with over the internet. After building the relationship, the
scammer will then ask for money and send the passport image as
proof of who they are. In the two most recent cases, it appears
that the scammers have used the same background template for the
passport, and digitally substituted different pictures and
biographic data. Afraid that something might be amiss, the
potential victims have sent the passport images to the Consulate
for verification. Vancouver had one person try and verify a U.S.
passport due to this kind of scam during this period.
26. (U) Posts routinely refer cases to CBSA whenever applicants
reveal information during a visa interview that indicates they
committed fraud against Canadian immigration authorities.
Similarly, CBSA counterparts refer cases to post whenever they
believe the individual has committed fraud against U.S.
27. (U) STAFFING AND TRAINING. Vancouver and Calgary have part-time
Fraud Prevention Managers (FPM) who are also NIV line officers.
Calgary has a locally engaged staff member who serves as Fraud
Prevention Manager Assistant and Vancouver hired a full-time fraud
prevention investigator last year. The current investigator started
work in Vancouver in February 2009 and went to Calgary in January
2010 to conduct fraud training.