There are numerous ways to forge a passport to gain entry into the United States. A forger may steal a passport, then erase and reprint information. A passport forger might also obtain a passport with a pre-printed number but no biographical information from a corrupt government official at a U.S. embassy. A passport forger may also obtain a valid US passport by using a fraudulent name and other information. Furthermore, a forger could steal a valid U.S. Passport and assume that person’s identity.
What Laws Govern Stolen and Forged Passports?
Forgery of a stolen passport falls under the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, which metes out penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. In addition, there are 45 other forgery statutes that create felony crimes. Passport crimes include:
- Issuance by a Consular Officer without Authority
- False Use of Passport
- Misuse of Passport
- Safe Conduct Violation, and
- Fraudulent Obtaining of Visas and other Entry Documents.
Are There Precautions to Prevent Passport Forgery?
Since August 2007, the U.S. has been issuing only e-passports, which have a computer chip embedded in the back cover containing a digital photograph and other biometric information. Although some technology experts say this information is easy to copy, this technology should reduce future forgery.
What Are the Consequences of Passport Forgery?
Passport forgery is a serious offense that can carry penalties of imprisonment and heavy fines. In addition to charges for forgery, you can also be charged with other offenses such as identity theft and fraud for using the passport to travel, as identification, or to apply for visas and other documents.
Should I Speak With an Attorney?
If you have been charged with forgery of a passport and any accompanying crimes, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer who can help defend your case. If your passport has been stolen, you should promptly report it stolen to prevent its unauthorized use.