CINCINNATI – Since early December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intensified inspections on outbound shipments moving through the Cincinnati Port of Entry. During Special Operation Red Phantom, officers focused enforcement efforts on fantasy and breeder documents produced in the United States and shipped to countries on every continent.
A fantasy document is a pseudo document that has the appearance of legal documentation, but is not issued by a legitimate organization or government agency and is not recognized in the United States as an official travel or identification instrument. Fantasy documents are often used as breeder documents—fraudulent forms of identification serving as a template for which criminals create other fake IDs.
From December 6, 2021-January 10, 2022, Cincinnati CBP officers have seized 617 shipments containing 2,211 fantasy documents such as international driver’s licenses and accompanying booklets. All of the licenses originated in New York or Florida by a company not authorized to produce these types of documentation. Only two companies have authorization by the U.S. Department of State to print international driver’s licenses in the United States: The American Automobile Association (AAA) or American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).
“These counterfeit documents can lead to disastrous consequences,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago. “Criminal organizations use these counterfeits to avoid attracting attention to their illegal activities.”
“Producing these documents without proper authorization and oversight is illegal,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “The story doesn’t stop there, however. Fake documents are associated with identity theft and human trafficking, and the revenue generated from their sales is known to fund organized crime. Our officers and specialists are trained to recognize a spectrum of fake identification and their hard work protects innocent civilians around the world.”
CBP officers coordinate identification findings with CBP’s Fraudulent Document Analysis Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, and other federal partners in order to combat any illicit activity. Visit CBP’s YouTube channel to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders.
Fake documents play a significant role in human trafficking, and CBP would like to raise awareness of the dangers associated with fake documentation and human trafficking by supporting #WearBlueDay, recognized on January 11th, in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Blue Campaign.