Identity theft: an illegal way to immigrate
SD. Rosendo Adames–a false name–had his “American dream,” and in order to be able to immigrate he switched identities with a person that he knew from his hometown, located in the south of the country. After residing in New York, and acquiring his resident visa, he was forced to return to the Dominican Republic, because his passport had expired. When he tried to renew it, he could not do it because he used an identity that was not his. This crime had other consequences: his residence in the United States is not valid, because it was based on false documents. The result: he could not return to the United States where he resided.
The crime that he committed was also inherited: the son that he had with a foreigner was registered with the stolen identity, so that it has no validity.
Cases like that of “Rosendo” occur with a lot of frequency. They represent the majority of the lawsuits to nullify birth certificates that have been filed by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) in the courts. Eighty-five percent (85%) of these are identity thefts done by Dominicans.
According to the statistics released by the Judicial Consultant of the JCE, in 2013 there were 2,592 lawsuits for annulment of birth certificates, of which 1,527 were filed in the courts of the first instance in different areas of the country. Of the number of lawsuits filed, 1,269 are awaiting a decision and 258 are awaiting a hearing in court. In the meantime 1,065 cases of annulment are waiting to be filed.
Moreover, in 2013 there were 441 complaints of identity theft in birth certificates, of which 331 were submitted to the Justice Department and are awaiting decisions. According to the explanations from the Judicial Consultant of the JCE, Alexis Diclo Grarbito, the practice of identity theft of another person motivated by a desire to immigrate occurs with greater frequency in the communities in the South of the country.
The lawsuits to nullify birth certificates or complaints for identity theft are carried out through the Department of the Judicial Consultant of the JCE, on instructions from the Plenary. “There are diverse causes, some for immigration reasons, others for humanitarian or commercial reasons; because there are persons that try to have a double identity in order to fool banks or in order to trick the mortgage associations (S&Ls).
Indictments over seven years
The director of the Inspections Department at the JCE, Juan Bautista Tavarez Gomez, revealed that over the last seven years there have been approximately two thousand indictments sent to court for identity theft or falsification of information, which is a very high number.
He recalled that when they manage to steal someone’s identity, the thief benefits from the civil and political rights of the victim of the theft, so that there are person who vote, and even register their children with the fake identity because they take it to be their “property.”
“There are many identity switches among relatives, between brothers….persons that live with one identity, as is the case of brothers (who use one identity). There are cases of person that have the same name, different cédulas and the same birth certificate, because this has been going on for some time. There are persons that have used the same identity for the last 50 or 60 years, and now it is being reported, which will not be a problem for the Board,” he noted.
The JCE has nearly 180 inspectors across the country to carry out all of this work, which the official believes is sufficient to get the job done.
He reported that it is more frequent to switch cédulas than birth certificates due to the vulnerability of this document and because the majority of those frauds that involved birth certificates were inherited from the past.
Among the most common causes are the fact that people “scheme” and commit these crimes in mutual agreement, whether it is with a relative, a friend or with a foreigner, in order to register them as children.
It also happens that baseball players that need an identity in order to be signed, persons who have been refused a visa or have been deported, need to travel and they make use of the identity of another person, whether it is using the information of their birth certificates and obtaining a cédula with his name or te name of the person that was registered or falsifying the information of the registration. According to the perception of Tavarez Gomez, in the majority of the cases these agreements between the person whose identity is taken and the person who takes it are usually done without any monetary interests.
Preventive measures by the JCE
According to what the officials of the JCE explained, in order to avoid identity theft, the agency ordered that the Civil Registry officials, at the moment of issuing any certificates for obtaining the cédula, whose emission is free of charge, are only given to the tutor, legal parent or a person who is properly authorized.
“Since this is a public document, previously any person could go and request the birth certificate. Law 659 (On Certificates of the Civil Registry, in article 31) says that they should be issued. (The person) asks for a certificate, as simple as that and he sells it. Then, logically speaking, people try a thousand tricks and obtain in some way the certificate,” Tavarez Gomez explained.
He noted that many persons know who has taken their identity and “to help them”, after several years of having done this, they go with the person to the JCE and admit that they committed this crime and that he paid RD$5,000, RD$10,000 or RD$20,000 for this.
The director of the Inspections Department of the JCE admitted that in some cases, such as that of a network in the Civil Registry Office in Boca Chica, which was revealed in April 2013, there was a lack of controls at the moment of registering the birth certificates.
Nevertheless, he said that the JCE took the necessary steps under instructions from the president of the agency, Roberto Rosario.
A complaint of having been the object of an alleged identity theft of a Dominican that resides overseas, opened a difficult investigation which brought as a consequence the discovery of more than 150 irregular birth registrations.
He pointed out that when a person files a complaint, it is submitted to an investigative process, and in the case of the supposed identity theft, this person was subjected to interrogations where he admitted that his own identity was not real.
He admitted that neither was his birth certificate true and valid, because he was registered by a woman that was not his biological mother, and that she herself did not possess a real identity, because she was registered as the daughter of a woman that had died and that lived overseas.
“He said to the inspector: Look, I am going to tell you the truth, this document is not mine, but neither is it that of the person listed in this book (of birth registrations),” he recalled.
The woman of some 40 years of age had registered 18 children, of which only two were her biological children. “Her mother was not her mother, because the birth certificate was altered. She was not her biological mother as a result of this. People use anything some times,” he said.
But it turns out that the woman that registered 18 children from different fathers appeared registered together with another four brothers more, that were the real biological children of her “mother”. As a result of this crime, the woman also affected her biological children with her actions, which became a chain of fraudulent acts.
The majority of the birth certificates were registered in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
How to avoid identity theft?
It is recommended that a person never give out his cedula number or a copy of his birth certificate to anyone, unless he is certain as to the use that will be given to these documents. Make sure that they will be used for legitimate purposes.
Category: DR News |