Editorial: A license for ID fraud
Recent actions in Albemarle and Concord demonstrate how the crackdown on illegal immigration goes beyond scrutinizing the immigrants themselves. There are U.S. citizens who aid them. Some may even be government employees.
Last week federal authorities arrested an Albemarle Department of Motor Vehicles license examiner, Susan Honeycutt, on charges of attempting to defraud the government by issuing false IDs to illegal immigrants. That came just weeks after police raided a Concord license plate office searching for evidence that license plates and titles had been issued fraudulently. The Concord office has closed.
If investigators are correct, the Albemarle case reaches far beyond North Carolina. Authorities also charged two other people ó men by the names of Vijendra Gangadeen and Richie Seupersad ó who allegedly arranged for the fake IDs and transported them to New York.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are all too aware of the lengths to which people will go to make and sell fake identification cards, a trade that has picked up since the government started pressuring employers to be more insistent about proper documentation. Last fiscal year, ICE made nearly 3,000 arrests for document and benefit fraud across the country, thanks in large part to task forces it created in 2006 to focus on those crimes.
According to newspaper and online reports, among the operations busted have been a fraudulent labor-certification ring involving Indian and Pakistani nationals in Newark, N.J.; a marriage-fraud ring involving Chinese and Vietnamese nationals in Los Angeles; and a family organization in Denver responsible for producing millions of fake identification documents, including green cards, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses that since have been seized in all 50 states. Authorities even discovered that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico were selling their identification papers to go on the black market in the United States.
Locally, Rowan County deputies busted a couple in March 2006 who were producing North Carolina ID cards, Mexican driver’s licenses and Mexican ID cards and selling them for $30 to $200.
Most of these cases do not involve public employees such as the license examiner with the DMV. But the possibility that such a crime could happen in a government agency sounds an alarm. It’s one thing for a DMV worker to be fooled by fake IDs, and quite another to deliberately produce them.