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Diplomatic Security Investigation Results in 112 Suspects Charged With Federal Passport Fraud

Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Washington, DC
September 16, 2008

The Investigation Resulted in the Seizure of $650,000 and the Recovery of 80 Fraudulently Issued United States Passports

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s San Francisco and Los Angeles Field Offices and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Sacramento Field Office announced today the results of Operation Deathmatch, the largest ever investigation into the issuance of fraudulently obtained United States passports.

Between July 2005 and August 2008, 112 individuals (click here for complete list of names and jurisdictions) were charged with federal passport fraud and related offenses around the country. The government also seized three firearms, $650,000 in cash, one Mercedes automobile, and over 80 of the fraudulently obtained United States passports.

During their investigation, Diplomatic Security and FBI agents cross-matched computerized government death records with Department of State passport records. This process identified individuals who fraudulently applied for, and obtained, United States passports using birth certificates of deceased Americans.

Most of the individuals charged were arrested or surrendered themselves to federal courts. Some of the imposters remain fugitives. The passport fraud charges were filed in 23 federal judicial districts in 16 states. Federal passport offenses carry a penalty of up to 10 years confinement in federal prison.

The individuals charged included fugitives, military deserters, delinquent taxpayers, parolees, convicted felons, sex-offenders, habitual drunk drivers, and undocumented immigrants from over 20 countries. All wanted U.S. passports for the purpose of hiding from law enforcement authorities. Many of the individuals charged resided and worked in their deceased identities for decades, and in many cases their neighbors, employers, spouses and children never knew them by their true names.

Gregory B. Starr, Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, stated, “This announcement culminates an extraordinary three-year joint investigation between the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the FBI. Our San Francisco and Los Angeles Field Offices did an outstanding job in leading this successful effort. Passport fraud is a threat to the national security of the United States. The U.S. passport is one of the most coveted travel documents in the world, and those who have acquired passports fraudulently could perpetrate further illegal acts to include terrorism.”

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. In 2007, DS participated in 1,955 arrests globally, primarily for passport and visa fraud, including 406 arrests overseas in cooperation with foreign police. Additional information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at
www.state.gov/m/ds.


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