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Passport fraud goes unchecked – Foreign Identity Document examinations required by HR


Confirming an applicant’s identify is a common practice for HR professionals within the US. In fact there are many tools available to HR and background screeners to do so. That said extra emphasis should be placed on documents that come from abroad and should be closely examined by experts of such documents. Passport and identity fraud runs rampant in a number of countries as illustrated in this recent story.

The Regional Passport Office has identified at least 50 cases this year where the applicants, in connivance with passport agents, produced fake verification certificates supposedly from IAS officials, police and army officials. The Regional Passport Officer Mr K. Srikar Reddy said, “We have revoked 50 passports which were obtained under the Tatkal Scheme by producing fake documents. While cross checking we found that the verification certificates were not issued by the officials concerned.”

The Begumpet police had earlier booked a case of fake verification certificates involving army officials. A seven-member gang was arrested for forging signatures of senior army officers for the purpose of Tatkal passports. The Saifabad police booked a case after a passport agent forged the signature of an IAS officer on the verification certificate. Market inspector of police S. Vinod Kumar said, “Ever since the Passport Seva Kendra opened in Ameerpet, Begumpet and Toli Chowki, the concerned police stations have been booking cases of submission of fake verification certificates which were earlier being booked by us when the passports were issued at the RPO Secunderabad. Of the 14 cases booked, two are related to these fake verification certificates.” He also added that passport agents who were cheating the public were also amongst those arrested.

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Philippine Government ratifies Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 185, also known as the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, was duly approved and ratified by President Benigno Aquino III on October 11 2011. The ratification was duly approved by the Philippine Senate and is now being transmitted to the ILO’s headquarters in Geneva for submission.

The convention provides that any seafarer who holds a valid seafarer’s identity document shall be admitted to enter the territory where the convention is in force when entry is requested for:

  • temporary shore leave;
  • joining his or her ship or transferring to another ship;
  • passing in transit to join his or her ship in another country;
  • repatriation; or
  • any other purpose approved by the authorities of the member state concerned.

According to the Joint Manning Group, the shipping industry has welcomed this new development, as the convention facilitates the activities of Filipino seafarers. In particular, it makes it easier for them to take shore leave without the required visa and without any unnecessary inspection and interrogation as to their identity.

For further information on this topic please contact Ruben T Del Rosario at Del Rosario & Del Rosario law Offices by telephone (+63 2 810 1791), fax (+63 2 817 1740) or email (ruben.delrosario@delrosariolaw.com).

Five African Nationals Arrested for Fake Visas, Passports, and Counterfeit Currency

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Five foreign nationals from Africa in India, including a woman, were arrested in the national capital for allegedly providing fake passports and visas, police officials said Friday.

“Gabriel Olawale Ajisafe, Sunny Odigie Sunday, Enwere Okethukwa Kelvin Enwere from Nigeria, Karolin Cherotich from Kenya, Augustine John Johm Kwaku Kyare from Ghana were arrested Wednesday from the Golchha theatre in Daryaganj and Ganesh Nagar,” said an official from Delhi Police.

It is believed that there were at least two more similar units functioning out of west Delhi, a place that has a high concentration of foreigners.

Around 120 fake passports, 300 Visas, and $22,000 USD worth in counterfeit US currency were recovered from the accused. “The mastermind of the gang was identified as Gabriel Olawale Ajisafe, 52. Ajisafe has been residing in Delhi for the last 30 years,” police officials add.

Sources said the east Delhi gang had operated from rented apartments and kept shifting to avoid detection. The gang spread its “message” in a unique manner. “The gang would arrange for fake passports for a certain client and offered them nominal discounts (the charges were anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000) if they spread the word about their ‘good work’ to the rest of their contacts. The gang also kept in regular touch with Indian “touts“, who would inform the gang about potential clients from FRRO, the passport cell and even local courts,” claimed a source

The arrests come days after the cops busted one of the biggest such networks run by Pakistan-based Kana and recovered fake currencies with a face value of Rs 2.3 crore and believe that the gang can have links with the illegal immigration rackets operating from Nepal and Bangladesh. The gang has also been producing fake passports of African and European countries and rough estimates show that they had sent over 110 men out of the country using fake documents and currencies. Most of those who sought their help were African nationals, whose passports and other travel documents had been confiscated by the Indian authorities after they violated Indian laws.

“The printing was exquisite and they could even reproduce the impression of the water mark of the genuine US Dollar. The prepared fake passports of the African countries were provided to the citizens of African countries whose passports had either been impounded in criminal cases or they had entered India illegally through the neighboring countries. The accused used multimedia technology software like Autocad, Corel Draw and other software for preparing the counterfeit dollars and fake documents,” said additional DCP (crime) Sanjay Bhatia.

The suspects had been running their office from Ganesh Nagar in east Delhi for the last one year.

Global background screening, an integral part of risk management

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

With increasing connectivity, there is an advent of a truly global workforce, multinational operations has led to an exponential increase in the risks associated with candidate recruiting and contract and or contingent workforce.

Human capital is increasingly being acknowledged as the most important investment for any company. Finding the right talent in the right job at the right time is an enormous challenge that global HR teams are facing in today’s current hiring scenario.

In all of this, in the more recent times, individuals from corporations involved in various crimes as well as increased legal scrutiny related to anti corruption has led to increased realization about the value for background screening all employees, contractors, and vendors at all levels.

Reported incidences of corruption, doing business with vendors listed on sanction and debarred parties lists in the petroleum  sector, unauthorized access to sensitive customer information in financial services sector, instances of staff in educational institutions involved in exploitation cases — all have led to growing awareness of the need for background screening of employees as well as vendor / contract staff.

The reality is that an organization’s reputation is at stake should they hire someone or do business with an entity that has a questionable background. Brand equity and value can be adversely impacted if it is known that an organization didn’t exercise a reasonable level of due diligence before recruiting a certain individual or decided to do business with a trading partner who had a questionable background. Thus, lack of background screening or even not performing best practice type checks depending on the circumstance on current or potential employees and or trading partners is something that could come back to haunt any organization — through reduced business, inability to retain better employees and adverse impact on its public image.

If that wasn’t enough, not only can it be rather embarrassing for an organization that does not excise due care in vetting their employees, contract staff or trading partners such organizations can also be exposed to enforcement action by government authorities for not conducting what may be considered a reasonable level of due diligence or have not applied “due care” as may be required by new and existing anti-corruption laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Sarbanes Oxley, Patriot Act, and US. Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations (FSGO) and many other similar industry and or country specific laws like the UK’s Bribery Act.

The FSGO requires organizational implementation of compliance standards and procedures that are “reasonably capable” of reducing the prospect of criminal conduct by employees, contractors, and business partners. In fact, according to FSGO, due care must be made in avoiding passing on to individuals whom an organization knew, or should have known, had a propensity to engage in illegal activities.

What is considered adequate due diligence or due care according to many of the above mentioned legal provisions is beyond the scope of this article and will be discussed in a later article.

Global Background Screening Industry Overview

Although there has always been some demand for background checks abroad, the initial driving force for international or global background screening was first introduced about ten years ago. This was triggered by the post 9/11 attacks. With a number of Fortune 1000 companies going global — either through setting up their own offices or outsourced work abroad, it was expected that their overseas based entities (mainly IT and BPO companies) followed processes that were an integral part to their recruitment policies. (Incidentally, recent studies show more than 90 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have a formal policy of background screening their employees). This led to background screening of their employees as well as their outsourced counterparts.

The concept of global background screening is no longer limited to just IT or the financial services segments. A growing number of organizations in the manufacturing, maritime, defense, pharmaceutical, petroleum, hospitality, health care, retail, travel, telecom, educational institutions and entertainment industries are adopting international background screening practices.

Today’s multinational companies (MNC) face a growing challenge in managing the collection, use, processing and transfer of mass amounts of personally identifiable information globally, especially in light of the myriad of data protection (privacy) laws that exist today. Effective management of global talent management, data privacy, and security involves a multi-disciplinary approach involving legislation, technology, and business processes in order to fully understand and address data protection and personal privacy issues on a global basis. It also requires recognition that effective management is a process that must include solutions for responding to constant changes in both internal and external factors effecting human resource data use especially when it involves screening candidates around the world.

The actual overseas background screening process involves carrying out various different types of checks based on a number of factors such as type of hire (entry, mid, professional, executive), regulated position, level of risk the individual position poses to the organization, and finally, the country at hand to name a few.  Any misrepresentation in the below listed checks should be reported as a discrepancy. The discrepancy rate is the percentage of misrepresentations/fraudulent/adverse information that a comprehensive background screening procedure should uncover during the verification process.

  • Identity check – confirms candidate is who they say they are
  • Right to work check – confirms candidate is authorized to work in a given country
  • Address verification – confirms candidate’s current residency
  • Education – confirms academic credentials
  • Employment – confirms claimed work history
  • Reference check – confirms professional reputation
  • Professional credential verification – confirms professional certifications
  • Criminal records history – determine if candidate has a propensity to engage in illegal activities
  • Regulatory and Compliance / Sanctions Search – determine if candidate has been sanctioned by relevant regulatory authorities, has been the subject of other enforcement actions, or identified as a possible politically exposed person
  • Adverse media – news articles that contain derogatory information the candidate
  • Conflict of interest – evaluate if candidate may be involved in multiple interests
  • Drug Testing – determination if candidate has a propensity to abuse illicit drugs
  • Trading Partner / Vendor Screening – determine if vendor is legitimate and of good standing

It is critically important that ALL checks are initiated only after an authorization in writing by the concerned candidate is obtained.

A “credible” international background screening company will ensure that the process goes only through the legal / legitimate route of obtaining records or verifications. This may imply relatively later verification compared to some agencies who provide “quick,” “easy,” “cheap” criminal record results from every country on the planet but through processes which may not be able to stand the scrutiny of law! This was most recently highlighted in a case involving a company who purported to provide court record checks from a country where it is well know that court records are not the best practice source for employment purposes. The end result was a series of missed criminal records that should have been reported, the loss of a screening company’s entire clientele, and finally an ongoing litigation involving suspected fraud and misrepresentation.

While more and more screening companies offer international or global service, the best way of managing background checks at least internationally is to ensure that international background checks are done by organizations that actually specialize in this area. This assumes the provider is able to demonstrate they have more than just a passing knowledge of available products. In fact specialized providers should be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the local data sources, a clear understanding of the specific geographic and search requirements, the legal environment (laws related to data/record access rights, personal privacy, relevant employment and human rights laws), and who are able to offer specific answers to questions related to best practice screening in the given country. A specialized global background screening organization would not ordinarily compromise its reputation by not following local compliance requirements.

Way forward
Data shows that individuals with a questionable background tend to join organizations that do not conduct background screening of its employees or contract/vendor staff.

Hence, when these organizations do start conducting background screening, they find many discrepancies (number of employees who have misrepresented facts on their resumes or have a criminal background) and/or go through huge attrition (as employees who have misrepresented facts or have negative background prefer to leave than be found out) when they announce background screening.

This is validation of how background screening becomes a deterrent against employees or prospective employees or even vendors misrepresenting facts on their resumes or employment applications. Thus, background screening proves to be a good insurance against risk to reputation related to bad hires as well as trading partners!

The international or global background screening industry is still in its emerging phase. There are many organizations/institutions overseas who, as a policy, do not share information with third parties for verification purposes. For some organizations and institutions which do not mind sharing information, it can be a longer process as databases are manually maintained and verification process involves going through very old data maintained physically.

Employment checks that can be conducted at the click of a button in the US have to be conducted through phone calls, faxes, or emails or site visits in India.

Moreover, many organizations abroad do not maintain databases or records for temporary employees, which lead to unavailability of such crucial information.

Criminal background information that is available through various online databases and court records in the US are not comparable with what is available in other geographies. In many countries, such information needs to be sought at the central repository level and even locally in the concerned jurisdictions.

Collaborative online database solutions involving all parties concerned — the candidate, the recruiter, the verifier, the verifying authorities, etc. — will help in developing a ‘pre-qualified and pre-checked’ ready-to-hire talent pool — which is the need of the hour in the present economic scenario.

Aletheia Consulting Group provides multinational companies best in class International Background Check Provider Vendor Evaluation and Audits. If you would like to learn more about our Services for Multinational Employers please feel free to contact us at terry.corley@AletheiaConsultingGroup.co.

Mexican National Gets 4 Years for Role in Fake Identity Ring

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

A Mexican national has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for his role in an organization that produced fake identification cards for illegal immigrants.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that 22-year-old Ismael Kevin Quintana-Ramirez was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Richmond. He pleaded guilty in June to a racketeering conspiracy charge.

An indictment says the organization operated 19 cells in 11 states. Quintana-Ramirez was the supervisor for the group’s cell in Fairdale, Ky.

Prosecutors say 22 defendants in the case have pleaded guilty so far.

Quintana-Ramirez will be deported upon completion of his sentence.

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UK Employers Duped by Counterfeit Identity Documents

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

counterfeit passportTWO suspected illegal immigrants were arrested in raids by the UK Border Agency on two businesses in Henley.

A 20-year-old Vietnamese man was held when officers visited Henley Nails and Brows in Market Place.

The business could be fined up to £10,000 unless it can prove it carried out right-to-work checks on the man.

A 21-year-old Brazilian man was arrested at the Loch Fyne restaurant, also in Market Place.

He is alleged to have used counterfeit Portuguese identity documents to obtain work after overstaying his visa.

Both men are awaiting deportation following the raids on Tuesday last week.

Categories: Idenity Validation

Fake passport syndicates’ days are numbered –DFA

August 1, 2011 1 comment

by Jerome Carlo R. Paunan, Philippine Information Agency

QUEZON CITY, July 20 (PIA) — Bogus passport syndicates’ days are numbered, an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday as the agency integrated “hi-tech” features on its ePassport or electronic
passport.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos warned that, fake or tampered passports are the ones usually used by syndicates involved in illegal activities like human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

The official said the microchip technology embedded in the passport has allowed airport security personnel to immediately and accurately verify the authenticity of the passport holder’s data.

“The ePassport is currently of the highest level of quality similar to those being issued by other countries,” Conejos said during the “Pilipinas Natin” show that features the different government clusters of the Aquino government.

The same chip technology, Conejos said, which allows the information stored in an ePassport to be read by special chip readers at a close distance, also contains the biometrics of the passport holder, the unique chip identification number, a picture, and a digital signature.

The ePassport uses biometrics or biometric identifiers that include face recognition, fingerprints, and iris scans which are difficult to forge, he said.While its digital signature technology is used to verify the authenticity of the data stored on the chip, he added. This technology is commonly used in credit cards and other security documents using integrated circuits or chips.

The new passport, he said, also follows the international standards implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which makes the country compliant to its regulations.

Aside from curbing opportunities for fraud, the ePassport, likewise, helps hasten the entry formalities of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and travelers, he said. (RJB/JCP-PIA NCR)

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