Faking It Didn’t Make It


You’ve probably heard the catchphrase ”fake it ’til you make it.” It suggests that if you are lacking assurance that you can do something, feigning confidence will actually enable you to be confident in your abilities. This works well if you are working up the nerve to ask your boss for a raise, but not so great if you are trying to fake documents to issue passports. The San Francisco Chronicle follows a story about a former government employee, who was dolling out passports to people who were not U.S. citizens.

The article states that the former passport office adjudications manager falsely submitted and approved passport applications with documentation that did not belong to the applicant. During a four-day trial, co-workers testified that Jamaican applicants who were not U.S. citizens would visit the passport office and use the personal identification information and photos of birth certificates from other people to apply for a passport. (I wonder how they got that information.) The Houston man would then accept the fake documents and issue a passport. According to court records, the 51-year-old man also provided false parental identification for a minor child without the proper two-parent consent. (That’s a big no-no.)

This fraudster, who was a public servant for more than 30 years, was trusted with a position that could impact national security. Thanks to one co-worker who came forward to confront the fraudster, he was caught. The passport manager’s defense attorney claimed that he was guilty of being a nice guy and didn’t commit any crimes. (The jury didn’t buy the story.)

The Houston man was found guilty on two counts of making false statements in the application and use of a passport. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Two co-workers who were involved in the fraud also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Ex-passport official in Houston convicted of fraud,” published by The Washington Times on February 3, 2014.

HOUSTON (AP) — A veteran government worker in Houston has been convicted of passport fraud for providing legal documents to people with fake paperwork.

Prosecutors say Nyle Churchwell remains in custody pending sentencing at a date to be determined. He faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of making false statements in the application and use of a passport.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.