Faking It Didn’t Make It

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You’ve probably heard the catchphrase ”fake it ’til you make it.” It suggests that if you are lacking assurance that you can do something, feigning confidence will actually enable you to be confident in your abilities. This works well if you are working up the nerve to ask your boss for a raise, but not so great if you are trying to fake documents to issue passports. The San Francisco Chronicle follows a story about a former government employee, who was dolling out passports to people who were not U.S. citizens.

The article states that the former passport office adjudications manager falsely submitted and approved passport applications with documentation that did not belong to the applicant. During a four-day trial, co-workers testified that Jamaican applicants who were not U.S. citizens would visit the passport office and use the personal identification information and photos of birth certificates from other people to apply for a passport. (I wonder how they got that information.) The Houston man would then accept the fake documents and issue a passport. According to court records, the 51-year-old man also provided false parental identification for a minor child without the proper two-parent consent. (That’s a big no-no.)

This fraudster, who was a public servant for more than 30 years, was trusted with a position that could impact national security. Thanks to one co-worker who came forward to confront the fraudster, he was caught. The passport manager’s defense attorney claimed that he was guilty of being a nice guy and didn’t commit any crimes. (The jury didn’t buy the story.)

The Houston man was found guilty on two counts of making false statements in the application and use of a passport. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Two co-workers who were involved in the fraud also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Ex-passport official in Houston convicted of fraud,” published by The Washington Times on February 3, 2014.

HOUSTON (AP) — A veteran government worker in Houston has been convicted of passport fraud for providing legal documents to people with fake paperwork.

Prosecutors say Nyle Churchwell remains in custody pending sentencing at a date to be determined. He faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of making false statements in the application and use of a passport.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.