In the State of Florida, only U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and other authorized foreign nationals are allowed to obtain Florida driver’s licenses. For a foreign national, proof of residence can be confirmed with a permanent residence stamp on his or her passport – unless it is a fake. The Miami Herald follows a story about a Venezuelan man who was in the business of selling bogus immigration stamps for thousands of dollars to undocumented immigrants for the purpose of obtaining Florida driver’s licenses.
The article states that over two-and-a-half years, the man and two alleged accomplices sold the fake U.S. residence stamps to at least 110 people. Court records estimate his “take” from the fraudulent venture at approximately $250,000. Investigators interviewed nearly half of the undocumented immigrants who bought the fake stamps. And, after an undercover interview with an investigator who was posing as an undocumented immigrant, the man incriminated himself while explaining how the exchange would occur.
This offense may not have been the first for the foreigner as he was also being investigated for lying on an application for a concealed weapons permit. According to court records, he fled the U.S. days after being investigated by federal agents and re-entered the U.S. illegally through Mexico several years later.
The man pleaded guilty to being the leader of the scam and selling fake U.S. residence stamps to undocumented immigrants. He was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, plus one year of supervised release. The defendant’s attorney stated that the criminal got a lighter sentence due to his cooperation with the government. (Really? He is jeopardizing the security of every U.S. citizen, and we cut him some slack?)
Today’s Fraud of the Day criminal has broken quite a few laws for: 1) being in the U.S. illegally, not once, but potentially twice 2) selling fraudulent residency stamps 3) aiding and abetting undocumented immigrants, and 4) possibly attempting to obtain a concealed weapons permit. The sentence he received seems a bit light, but the order for deportation following the completion of his prison term proves that our justice system will punish those involved in this type of crime.