Can U.S. government
officials conducting inspections at ports of entry in Canada,
Mexico and Jamaica detect counterfeit identification documents?
No, according to the
U.S. General Accounting Office in a report released Jan.
GAO investigators created
fictitious driver's licenses and birth certificates using
off-the-shelf computer graphics software. They also carried
fake credit cards with fictitious names. Agents entering
the ports used those counterfeit documents to gain entry
into the United States.
"INS and U.S. Customs
Service officials never questioned the authenticity of the
counterfeit documents and our agents encountered no difficulty
entering the country using them," said Robert Cramer,
managing director of GAO's Office of Special Investigations.
"On two occasions,
INS officials did not ask for or inspect any identification
documents when our agents entered the United States," Cramer
said. "On another occasion, an agent was able to walk
across a major border checkpoint and was not stopped or inspected
by any government official."
GAO said it's currently
evaluating ways to improve the system. It would most likely push
for better training of inspectors and improved
technical approaches to detect counterfeit documents.