Nefarious activities of a criminal organization that targeted Texans of Asian descent were exposed last month by The Dallas Morning News.
The Texas Department of Public Safety inadvertently shipped thousands of driver’s licenses to a New York-based group with felonious intent that has ties in other states. Department of Public Safety Chief Steve McCraw explained how the identity theft scam worked. The criminal actors fraudulently obtained the licenses, credit card information and other personal data on the dark web. McCraw said that the criminals specifically targeted Asians of various backgrounds to find what he called potential “look-alikes” to match with Chinese nationals who have entered the country illegally. Once in possession of a Texas driver’s license, the illegal alien can exchange it for a license issued by the state in which he’s residing. At least 3,000 Texans have been affected, and an investigation is ongoing.
The black market for fake documents among Chinese and other illegal aliens who have crossed into the interior since President Biden’s inauguration is huge. A staggering number of Chinese migrants have illegally entered the U.S. during fiscal 2022’s last three months – a 700 percent increase when compared to the same prior year period. Customs and Border Protection data shows that illegal Chinese migrant encounters have increased each month since February 2021, and 2023 is on pace to surpass the total number caught in 2022’s entirety.
The border crisis is an opportunity for drug smugglers as well as human and sex traffickers. Much less reported, however, is identity theft, a crime that has directly harmed thousands more than the 3,000 targeted Texans. In 2022, during the fourth quarter alone, identity theft and related data breaches victimized 22 million Americans. For the third consecutive quarter, medical identity theft was most prevalent; 14.4 million consumers fell victims. No one is safe. The password manager LastPass disclosed details about a number of hacks it suffered last year when source code and customer vault data were lifted, according to technology and culture publication The Verge. To date, identity theft has cost Americans $5.8 billion, and fraudulent incidents are up 70 percent since last year.
Despite the skyrocketing identity theft incidents – one every 22 seconds, and up from .3 million reports in 2001 to 5.7 million in 2021 – the federal government will not adopt a simple solution that would protect otherwise vulnerable consumers. Maximum security could be provided in a two-step remedy. First, mandate E-Verify that would, with 99 percent assurance, guarantee that new hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S.; the remaining 1 percent is vulnerable to identity theft, according to an Office of the Inspector General report.
However, the Social Security Administration could close the loophole almost entirely if it would simply notify workers with more than one employer making contributions to their Social Security numbers, and ask them to report if they were not actually working for those employers. For reasons that it refuses to explain, the SSA has a policy of not informing identity theft victims. With 1.2 million “known gotaways” entering the general population over the past two years, identity theft is increasingly likely. Those who have escaped detection, and are therefore not paroled, will become increasingly desperate for jobs, and the fraudulently obtained permission to hold them.
Even though border enforcement and dissuading identity theft could both be easily done, protecting criminals and leaving citizens vulnerable, at the border and in the interior, is a Biden administration hallmark.
Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Project for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected].