Passport Crimes and Fraud
Although many people may not be aware of it, passport fraud is a serious crime that is carefully investigated by the United States government. Because of the status of the United States in world affairs, the United States passport is one of the most valuable documents in the world because it allows the owner to enter nearly every country easily. Therefore, a United States passport gives the owner a great deal of freedom in terms of international travel and activity. To protect the integrity of the United States passport and help prevent other crimes, everyone needs to be aware of passport fraud, its implications, and how it is committed.
The Facts about Passport Fraud
Passport fraud is a serious crime that is classified as a federal felony. It is investigated by the DS Criminal Investigative Division Passport Fraud Branch. In many cases, passport fraud occurs in relation to some other crime or criminal activity. This can be anything ranging from murder, organized crime, and narcotics trafficking to international terrorism, alien smuggling, pedophilia, or money laundering. When most people commit passport fraud, they are attempting to hide their true identities so that their movements and activities are not able to be associated with them.
Because passport fraud is often connected with other serious crimes, the penalties for this offense are severe. A person found guilty of passport fraud can receive ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If the fraud is associated with narcotics trafficking, the number of years in prison increases to fifteen, and if it is associated with international terrorism the penalty is twenty years. Last year, the Passport Fraud Branch of the DS Criminal Investigative Division investigated 3,200 cases of passport fraud and made 615 arrests. Hundreds of other people had warrants out for their arrest but remained uncaught.
Since passport fraud is often connected with other crimes, it makes sense that most people committing this act are guilty of other illegal activities. People involved in passport fraud might be those trying to illegally gain citizenship or legal status in the US, people trying to impersonate others to hide their own identities, terrorists and fugitives, and people guilty of financial fraud and other crimes. There are many different ways to commit passport fraud. It can be as simple as substituting photos, getting around the two-parent signature rule for minors, using a deceased person's passport and assuming his or her identity, or changing legal documents.
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