Have you ever been on the receiving end of the question: “Driver’s license and registration, please?” If so, you were likely been pulled off to the side of the road, as the flashing blue lights served as a reminder of why you were about to have “the worst day ever.” Luckily for you, you probably didn’t find yourself being carted to jail like the couple featured in a Government Security News article.
I’m sure as a teenager you counted down the days until you could take your driver’s license test. That license was a golden ticket to life as a grown up. For a couple of fraudsters, licenses and other forms of identification were like money, literally. (What is the going rate for another person’s identity these days?) In a recent investigation involving the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), a pair of undocumented immigrants were discovered operating an upscale counterfeit document business, providing what officials deemed “high quality” documents and identification cards to those willing to pay. (Think of us as “entrepreneurs,” not thieves.)
The fraudsters were arrested in March of 2012 after a search warrant exposed what ICE described as an array of document counterfeiting equipment and supplies. Items included computers, printers, laminating machines, card stock and $18,000 in cash. The “business partners” pleaded guilty to state charges of establishing and possessing a financial forgery lab. According to court documents, the majority of their business exchanges took place at swap meets in the Las Vegas area. The fraudsters charged $100 for a packet containing a green card and Social Security card. Packets including a state driver’s license cost $180. (Do you provide a bundle discount?) A statement made by the HSI noted: “Those who knowingly and indiscriminately sell phony identity documents are putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk, which is why these cases are a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations.”
Maybe it’s a little cliché but I have to say it: when the HSI and LVMPD catch a couple of fraudsters in the hot Nevada desert, “another one bites the dust.” Pack your bags…it’s time for a short trip to American prison before you return home.