09ASTANA540, ALMATY AND ASTANA FRAUD SUMMARY SEPTEMBER 2008 – FEBRUARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA540 2009-03-26 04:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0235
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHTA #0540/01 0850456
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260456Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5027
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0375
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 1356

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ASTANA 000540 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KFRD CVIS CPAS CMGT ASEC KZ
SUBJECT: ALMATY AND ASTANA FRAUD SUMMARY SEPTEMBER 2008 - FEBRUARY 
2009 
 
DEPT FOR CA/FPP, POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGERS 
 
REF: A) 08 STATE 74840 B) 08 ASTANA 1698 C) 07 BISHKEK 823 
 
 
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2. (U) The following sections correspond to questions in Ref A. 
 
--------------------- 
COUNTRY CONDITIONS 
--------------------- 
 
3. (U) Kazakhstan is a single consular district with two consular 
offices, Embassy Astana and Embassy Branch Office (EBO) Almaty. The 
Astana consular section processes only NIVs and is staffed by one 
officer and two Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs). EBO Almaty 
maintains a consular section with two American officers, one 
Consular Assistant and five FSNs.  The Branch Office processes 
nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) for residents of Kazakhstan and handles 
Kazakhstani, Kyrgyz and Tajik immigrant visas (IVs) and adoptions. 
The American Citizen Services workload is shared by both sections. 
The Chief of the two Consular Sections is in Almaty. 
 
4. (SBU) Kazakhstan is a very low fraud country.  A B1/B2 validation 
study conducted by post in August 2008 (Ref. B) found a non-return 
rate of 0.9% for Astana issuances and 1.6% for Almaty issuances. The 
total non-return numbers were too low to draw any meaningful 
conclusions as to NIV fraud trends. 
 
5. (SBU) Since independence in 1991, the economic situation in most 
of Kazakhstan has improved.  In the larger cities, such as Almaty, 
Astana, and Atyrau, the oil and gas industry has provided an 
economic boom.  However, the improvement in living conditions is 
uneven and in many rural areas there are still pockets of extreme 
poverty and economic hardship.  The worldwide economic slowdown has 
reached Kazakhstan, however there is no evidence to date that visa 
fraud has increased as a result. The overall economic situation is 
aggravated by corruption, which motivates much of the visa fraud 
encountered at post.  The most significant factor in both visa 
issuance and fraud rates is the economic situation in the 
applicant's home region. 
 
6. (SBU) Most pleasure (B2) visa applicants desire to travel to 
Brooklyn, NY or the suburban Seattle, WA area to visit relatives. 
Manhattan and Las Vegas are also becoming popular tourist 
destinations as incomes rise.  Houston, TX is the number one 
destination for business (B1) travelers thanks to strong energy 
industry ties.  Students also like Houston; the University of 
Houston Downtown and the Houston community college system are by far 
the most popular starting points for Kazakhstani students, though 
many transfer to other institutions after a few semesters.  F1 
applicants for post-secondary study tend to be very well qualified, 
however applicants hoping to study English as a Second Language are 
less consistent.  The number of Kazakhstani immigrants to the United 
States is relatively low. 
 
7. (SBU) Fraudulent documents, especially invitation letters, 
employment letters and other bona fides are available and easy to 
come by.  However, it is unusual to see fraudulent official 
Kazakhstani documents such as passports and birth certificates.  On 
the other hand, fraudulent official documents from neighboring 
countries are a concern. 
 
------------ 
NIV FRAUD 
------------ 
 
8. (SBU) Most consular fraud in Kazakhstan relates to B1/B2 NIV 
applications.   Document packs featuring false job and invitation 
letters make up the vast majority of these cases.  To combat this 
problem, post maintains a list of suspicious notaries to help us 
spot less-than-legitimate invitation letters.  Most of the falsified 
employment letters are also easy to spot: they almost all feature a 
laser or ink-jet printed company stamp (an almost mandatory feature 
for an employment letter in the region) instead of the real thing. 
 
 
9. (SBU) Standard document pack cases are relatively easy to 
identify.  However, post often sees a more refined version of the 
document pack which includes interview coaching and even a 
'legitimate' group leader.  In this case, the leader is usually an 
established small business owner with several previous visits to the 
U.S.  Using these credentials, the leader will apply with two or 
three previously unseen applicants, claiming a joint purpose of 
travel in line with the leader's previous trips. 
 
10. (SBU) Careful interviewing has proven the best way to spot and 
hinder this type of NIV fraud.  The applicants in the above and 
similar cases all have 'legitimate' supporting documents and have 
 
ASTANA 00000540  002 OF 004 
 
 
received coaching for the interview.  Asking detailed professional 
questions helps identify cases for further investigation. 
Entry/exit data for previous applicants related to a suspected 
facilitator establishes patterns.  Since the application documents 
are designed to pass a basic fraud check,
 local investigations are 
time consuming and have involved visits to suspect businesses and 
residential addresses.  We believe, however, that aggressively 
pursuing this type of fraud is the most effective deterrent. 
 
 
11. (SBU) The Summer Work and Travel (SWT) J1 program continues to 
grow in popularity, from about 200 participants in 2000 to over 4000 
in 2008.  While not directly influencing visa eligibility, fake job 
offer letters are a problem for SWT participants.  Students purchase 
job offers from local brokers or through the Internet for $50 - 
$200. Many of these jobs do not exist at all.  Of the rest, most are 
sold to dozens or hundreds more students than the employer is 
expecting. To better protect program participants, post would 
welcome changes to the SWT program to better monitor the legitimacy 
of job offers. In particular, we would support a requirement that 
all first-time SWT participants travel with confirmed job offers 
obtained directly from their American sponsoring organization. 
 
12. (SBU) Post does not see significant fraud trends in 
employment-based, student, or religious NIVs. A 100% validation 
study of the 60 visa referral program cases processed in 2008 
confirmed that all referral beneficiaries returned to Kazakhstan on 
time. 
 
----------- 
IV FRAUD 
----------- 
 
13. (SBU) EBO Almaty processes immigrant visas (IVs) for Kazakhstan, 
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.  Approximately 60% of post's IV cases, 
not including adoptions, are from Kyrgyzstan.  The level of IV fraud 
is low but there is concern about the legitimacy of Kyrgyz and, in 
particular, Tajik civil documents.  Most can be bought inexpensively 
and the potential for identity fraud is high, as is the potential 
for an applicant to mask potential 212(a) ineligibilities. 
 
----------- 
DV FRAUD 
----------- 
 
14. (SBU) Diversity Visa (DV) visa fraud is low, but the same 
concerns as above apply to our DV applicants, the majority of whom 
are also from Kyrgyzstan.  The number-one reason for refusing DV 
applications is the failure of an applicant to include a 
pre-existing spouse or child in their initial entry.  This appears 
to be mainly due to DV entry facilitators in the region which either 
do not know program rules or do not care, rather than any deceptive 
or willful action on the applicant's part. 
 
------------------------- 
ACS AND PASSPORT FRAUD 
------------------------- 
 
15. (SBU) ACS fraud is extremely low in Kazakhstan.  To date, post 
has not had a pattern of mala fide applicants trying to obtain U.S. 
passports or other benefits from the consular section. 
 
----------------- 
ADOPTION FRAUD 
----------------- 
 
16. (SBU) Almaty processes over 400 adoptions per year.  Most of 
these cases are IR3 visa class adoptions from Kazakhstan, where 
international adoption is a high-profile issue.  Kazakhstan has a 
working system of checks-and-balances between the three government 
agencies (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and 
Ministry of Justice) that makes international adoption fraud or 
wrongdoing difficult.  Furthermore, the attention the Kazakhstani 
adoption system receives from the local media and legislators helps 
to limit possibilities for abuse of the system.  We have not seen 
any Kazakhstani adoption cases that we suspect are fraudulent. 
 
17. (SBU) EBO Almaty continues to work closely with Embassy Bishkek 
to monitor the adoption situation in Kyrgyzstan.  While Kyrgyz 
adoptions have been on hold since late 2008, Almaty anticipates a 
resumption of adoption processing in the future, including many IR4 
cases.  We are concerned about the potential for fraud and weak 
controls in the Kyrgyz adoption system expressed by Bishkek in Ref 
C. 
 
------------------------------------- 
USE OF DNA TESTING 
------------------------------------- 
 
18. (SBU) Post has had one case involving DNA testing in the last 
 
ASTANA 00000540  003 OF 004 
 
 
six months; fraud was not confirmed in that case.  There are no 
special issues or concerns with using DNA testing in Kazakhstan. 
 
------------------------------------- 
ASYLUM AND DHS BENEFIT FRAUD 
------------------------------------- 
 
19. (SBU) Embassy Astana and EBO Almaty assist DHS Moscow, the 
Department and the BCIS district offices in the United States with 
verifying documents for refugee and asylum cases.  In most 
instances, these documents turn out to be fraudulent.  Post has 
processed no Visas 92/93 cases nor have any lost or stolen I-551s 
been reported to us. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
ALIEN SMUGGLING, TRAFFICKING, ORGANIZED CRIME 
AND TERRORIST TRAVEL 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
20. (SBU) Kazakhstan's geographic location makes it a transit point 
for alien and drug smuggling, particularly from South Asia to 
Western Europe. Known 'black' border crossings permit travel into 
and out of Kazakhstan without inspection.  Falsified Kazakhstani 
travel documents are a minor problem. Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uzbek 
documents are of greater concern.  Contacts at other Western 
missions report fraud patterns and concerns similar to those 
detailed in paragraphs 5 to 8.  Post is not aware of any cases in 
which a fraudulent U.S. visa has been used to assist an EU visa 
application. 
 
----------------------------------- 
DS CRIMINAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS 
----------------------------------- 
 
21.  (SBU) In the last six months, Astana and Almaty have not 
referred any cases to Diplomatic Security for investigation. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
HOST COUNTRY PASSPORT, IDENTITY DOCUMENTS, 
AND CIVIL REGISTRY 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
22. (SBU) The Kazakhstani Ministry of Justice processes passport 
applications at regional offices throughout the country, issuing a 
machine-readable laminate passport.  Passport validity can be up to 
twenty years, but all passports must be replaced on the bearer's 
25th and 45th birthday regardless of when they were issued. 
Kazakhstan issues a national ID card which can be used for travel 
within the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Post has not 
encountered any known cases of falsified Kazakhstani travel or 
identity documents.  Kazakhstani media reports have alleged that 
well-connected Kazakhstanis have obtained passports issued with a 
false identity. Birth certificates and other lower-level civil 
documents, particularly those issued outside of major cities, are 
not secure.  A determined and resourceful person could obtain a 
government-issued Kazakhstani passport with a false identity using 
these documents. 
 
----
----------------------------------------- -- 
COOPERATION WITH HOST GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
23. (SBU) Cooperation with the Kazakhstani government authorities is 
mixed.  There is a noted lack of cooperation or organization among 
Kazakhstan's ministries and regional departments.  Despite this, 
post is usually able to receive immediate assistance with unofficial 
verification of documents.  If an official, written answer is 
necessary it can take several months, however. 
 
24. (SBU) Post has developed strong relationships with adoption 
processing authorities, including the Ministry of Education -- the 
government agency that oversees the processing of dossiers.  When 
addressing adoption-related concerns, cooperation is generally very 
good. 
 
------------------------------ 
AREAS OF PARTICULAR CONCERN 
------------------------------ 
 
25. (SBU) Post is paying close attention to the rapid growth of the 
Summer Work and Travel Program (para. 9) and Kazakhstan's status as 
a drug- and alien- smuggling thoroughfare (para. 18). 
 
------------------------ 
STAFFING AND TRAINING 
------------------------ 
 
26. (SBU) Almaty Vice Consul James Waterman serves as Fraud 
Prevention Manager, supervised by Consular Section Chief Chris 
Beard.  FSN Rustam Ushurov is the Fraud Prevention Assistant. 
 
ASTANA 00000540  004 OF 004 
 
 
Christopher Beard attended the Fraud Prevention for Consular 
Managers course at FSI in October 2005.  Rustam Ushurov attended the 
FSN Fraud Prevention course at FSI in November 2008 and James 
Waterman will attend the FPM course at the soonest available 
opportunity.  Post hosted FPP's Eliana Holmes for onsite 
consultations in October 2008. 
 
 
MILAS

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