Authorities try to slow production and sale of forged documents

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Despite the advent of computers and mobile devices, people must still depend upon paper or plastic for items such as drivers' licenses, Social Security cards, green cards and the like. People who need one or more of these documents and who are not legally eligible for them must turn to people who sell forged documents. Central Florida has been described as a hotbed of such crimes.

Homeland Security agents, secret service agents and local police formed a task force about 10 years ago to investigate the production and sale of fraudulent documents and government benefits crimes in central Florida. Police arrested one known purveyor of fraudulent documents who admitted to selling 2,000 sets of such documents in a two-year period. The owner of a phone and computer repair store was also arrested and charged with physically producing the documents.

The real key to stopping the market for fraudulent documents is identifying the purchasers. The special agent said that he believes that many purchasers are undocumented immigrants seeking a job. He also speculated that some of the purchasers are criminals or terrorists trying to blend into a community. An average of five people are arrested every day across the country for selling fraudulent documents. The agent also pointed to the difficulty of finding people who purchase the documents. Sellers rarely keep records of their sales, and the utility of copies of the documents is limited by the fact that most purchasers use false names.

Anyone charged with the sale or manufacture of fraudulent documents may face serious criminal penalties, if convicted. A consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney may provide a helpful analysis of the evidence and law that will determine the outcome of the case. A knowledgeable lawyer can also provide an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an acquittal.

Source: WFTV9, "Federal agent says Central Florida is hotbed for sale of fraudulent documents," Jason Kelly and Jeff Deal, March 13, 2018

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