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Monday, May 19, 2008

Illegal immigration and identity theft

A couple of years ago I watched a report on Univision or Telemundo (I forget which at this point) where the reporter interviewed a woman, an illegal alien from a Central American country.

The woman, who apparently was not employed, lived in a grand style. She was youngish (late twenties - early thirties?) and good looking, nicely dressed.

Her apartment looked like something out of the Pottery Barn catalogue. When asked about how did she earn the money for living in such style, she actually stated that she had done it by charging it to stolen credit cards. She felt that she was owned that lifestyle and had every right to take was she felt was her due.

By the time the report was over I was furious. There had to be hundreds like her. Unfortunately I didn't have the time or resources to investigate.

Steven Malanga, however, has been looking into the issue and has an excellent article at City Journal, Illegal in More Ways than One
Identity theft in America goes hand and hand with illegal immigration
(emphasis added):
As everyone knows, America is experiencing an epidemic of identity theft. In the last five years alone, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission from U.S. residents who have had their identity stolen have skyrocketed 60 percent, to 258,427 in 2007- one-third of all consumer fraud complaints that the commission receives. What's less well understood, however, is how illegal immigration is helping to fuel this rash of crime. Seeking access to jobs, credit, and driver's licenses, many undocumented aliens are using the personal data of real Americans on forged documents. The immigrants' identity theft has become so pervasive that the need to combat it is "a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration," according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The FTC's latest statistics help show why. The top five states in terms of reported identity theft in 2007 all have large immigrant populations - the border states of Arizona, California, and Texas, as well as Florida and Nevada. People who pilfer legitimate identities in these states are much more likely than in other parts of the country to use them to gain employment unlawfully - the most common reason that illegal aliens steal personal information. In Arizona, for instance, 36 percent of all identity theft is for employment purposes, compared with only 5 percent in Maine, a state with far fewer illegal aliens. "To many law enforcement leaders in Arizona, this suggests that Arizona's identity-theft epidemic is directly linked to the problem of illegal immigration," says a recent report by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona company that helps businesses and individuals protect themselves.

Government investigations have only begun to uncover the extent of the crime wave. When ICE agents raided six Swift meat-processing plants in December 2006, they found widespread evidence of fraud involving the use of real people's identities; the feds eventually charged 148 illegal aliens in the case with crimes related to identity theft. In the first year and a half after Arizona created a special unit to deal with identity theft, investigators said that they were able to purchase more than 1,000 phony documents that made use of real people's identities. A so-called three-pack - a Social Security card, a driver's license, and a permanent-resident card - costs on average just $160 in the state.
How is it done?
One disturbing theory: health-care employees with access to children's files are working for organized gangs that trade in illegal documents and are willing to pay richly for the data. "We have a major problem with workers in medical offices stealing patients' identities, selling them and making a direct profit," Sergeant James Bracke of the Phoenix Police Department told authors of the Arizona report. The gangs can afford these bribes because identity theft has become such a big business. In Phoenix, "coyotes," the smugglers who lead illegal immigrants over our borders, have created a network of phony-document producers and safe houses where undocumented workers can wait until they get their fraudulent papers.
Where to start? Through local law enforcement.

Until local police departments are trained and willing to fight this crime, it will continue to expand. And illegal aliens involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


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At 3:24 AM, Anonymous Moheta.it said...

Hello Fausta ...from Venice (Italy)
Jessica Moh

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

Hello Jessica

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Dan Collins said...

Lucky Jessica.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger O Pechanga said...

Fausta, local police ARE willing to help, but here in CA, they are UNABLE to help due to state law.

They can't ask suspects if they are illegal.

Lots of work to do. Personally, I think we need to step up our quickness in getting people processed, but I certainly don't think those that came here illegally should get in ahead of my family who waited their turn it line...

Come visit at: http://originalpechanga.blogspot.com


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