Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Puerto Rican Identity Theft Scheme

Thousands of Puerto Ricans have been the target of an identity theft scheme, where birth certificates and other legal documents have been stolen and sold in the United States. At a time where tensions are high involving illegal immigration (especially among the Latino population) people are paying a high price for these documents.

Puerto Ricans have become a valuable source and excellent target for this scheme because of their Hispanic surnames and their United States citizenship. Birth certificates are documents that are commonly used in Puerto Rico, as children need them to enroll in school, join sports teams and join churches. This common need for carrying and presenting birth certificates means that many Puerto Ricans keep these documents easily accessible in their homes and unguarded. ICE agent Roberto Escobar says that a "tripleta" is the most valued package that one can purchase. It contains a birth certificate, driver's license, and social security card, and is named after the Puerto Rican street sandwich stuffed with three types of meat.

Puerto Rican documents have shown up in immigration raids in states throughout the U.S. Data was discovered from thousands of school children and from renewal license forms at the Puerto Rican Department of Motor Vehicles. These documents sell for up to $6,000 on the black market.

In an attempt to protect Puerto Ricans from identity theft, the Puerto Rican government is voiding all birth certificates starting July 1st, and requiring all citizens (a total of about 5 million) to apply for new documents which will have stronger security features. Old birth certificates will be annulled by September 30. For all the inconvenience and trouble in an attempt to curb the identity theft, the law does nothing to stop the people with documents already in circulation. It doesn't guarantee that people already holding stolen documents will not be able to use them to attain new ones.

Image Source: Paraconocer.com
News Source: Comcast.com

No comments: