Sunday, August 7, 2011

Md. man accused of making fake immigration documents for profit (Washington Examiner)

Md. man accused of making fake immigration documents for profit
By: Emily Babay | Examiner Staff Writer | 08/07/11 8:05 PM

A suspected illegal immigrant is accused of running a Maryland-based operation to create fake green cards and Social Security cards for other illegal aliens.

Enrique Diaz-Velasquez is charged in federal court in Greenbelt with fraud relating to identification documents and mail fraud.

Authorities picked up on the scheme when agents in the Eastern Shore area would "consistently apprehend" undocumented immigrants who possessed fraudulent immigration documents, a Department of Homeland Security special agent wrote in an application to search Diaz-Velasquez's home in Barclay, a small town in Queen Anne's County.

The "majority" of those arrested reported that they bought the fraudulent documents from Diaz-Velasquez, court documents say.

Diaz-Velasquez, 28, was taken into custody last week and is being held pending an Aug. 18 preliminary hearing. No lawyer was listed for him in court records.

U.S. immigration officials have lodged a detainer against him, said Cori Bassett, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The detainer is a sign that officials suspect that he is in the country illegally.

Informants told DHS investigators in April that Diaz-Velasquez was selling legal permanent resident cards and Social Security cards, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators monitored the informants' phone calls with Diaz-Velasquez and observed him arranging to create and sell the cards, the complaint says.

In one of those phone conversations, Diaz-Velasquez allegedly said he sent most of the manufactured cards through the mail and had made fraudulent documents for undocumented immigrants in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Court records do not say how many cards Diaz-Velasquez is believed to have created and sold. Authorities said in court papers that they wanted to search his home for genuine and counterfeit identity documents, templates, ink stamps, document-producing software, client lists and other items.

In May, the informants arranged to buy eight Social Security cards for $40 each from Diaz-Velasquez. They requested that two use real Social Security numbers in order to pass a security check; Diaz-Velasquez said he would use real numbers if the sources provided them, according to the complaint.

Federal agents picked up those fraudulent cards from an Ocean City post office box in June. Six of the Social Security cards had numbers that belonged to real people, the complaint says.

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