The lengths visa and citizenship fraud criminals will go to and how new technology is combating immigration crime has been revealed by Australian officials.
The National Investigations Section of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has highlighted some recent cases in its annual report. These include a couple from Queensland alleged to be involved in arranging 500 false marriages for migration purposes. They also owned nine properties and had $2.1 million in assets.
Also, multiple search warrants were issued on a West Australian business alleged to be falsifying employment records for skilled migration and providing unregistered migration assistance to applicants for permanent skilled migration.
An individual who used up to three false identities to circumvent visa requirements and lawful migration rules was taken to court and subsequently left the Australia voluntarily.
A spokesman said that these positive results have been achieved through the continued development and refinement of information technology, corporate governance, policy structures and strategic partnerships with key agencies.
Modern technology is also playing a role in combating visa and immigration fraud. Investigators use a range of new and innovative tools and capabilities to analyse risk and identify mitigation strategies. A key tool is the application of enhanced analytic in a range of areas, including fraud control, risk management and integrity scans.
Risk models are being used to help determine the nature and degree of risk associated with visa applications. Complex statistical models are used to process large amounts of data in real time to identify higher than acceptable levels of risk.
A Border Risk Identification System (BRIS) scans information collected through the department’s advance passenger processing system. All inbound travelers are screened, and travelers representing potential risk are more closely examined.
Additionally, there is a networks analytic system that can identify hidden connections between people, organisations and addresses. Using analytic and business intelligence processes allows the department to forecast more accurately future trends in traveler arrivals to Australia and generate alerts when unusual patterns are detected.
Biometrics also play an important role. The department has been collecting biometrics since 2006. These now include facial images and fingerprints from those in immigration detention, applicants for citizenship, those who apply onshore for a Protection visa, offshore applicants and more recently, a pilot project that verifies the identity of arriving passengers.
The collection of data is now global in scale. For example, fingerprint matching against international data has proven to be extremely valuable and has revealed information that supports a client’s claims as well as important information that was not disclosed to the department by a client.
For example, a visitor visa application was refused after the applicant’s fingerprints matched against those of a known child sex offender from the United Kingdom who left the country prior to sentencing.
An Onshore Protection visa applicant’s fingerprint match revealed that the subject was wanted for credit card and identity fraud in the United States.
Biometric matches also resulted in an offshore visitor visa application being refused after the applicant’s fingerprints matched against an Interpol alert showing the client was wanted for importing large quantities of cocaine into Austria.