Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has taken the lead on preventing identity fraud in the Bay State.
An internal audit has discovered the Mass. Registry of Motor vehicles is susceptible to massive fraud, even after a private company was hired to root out the scamming. Plagued by numerous cases of improper practices, Gov. Baker ordered an internal audit of the agency earlier this year.
The announcement is timely, as the political conversation has shifted largely to illegal immigration after controversial remarks made by Donald Trump. Still the question remains, what are states doing to prevent illegal immigration and protect the identity of the average citizen?
If Massachusetts is any example, it is obvious the states have been doing little to nothing about the epidemic. It is now apparent the government agency reeked of corruption and lackadaisical oversight. This behavior presented a plethora of potential problems, as clerks and employees were benefiting from defrauding lawful citizens patiently waiting for proper ID.
One incident came to light after investigators uncovered that RMV worker Alexander Brewer was charging $200 a pop for immigrants seeking fake IDs to hide their true identities. Brewer confessed to selling over 200 licenses, but easily could have sold more. A cynical observer would commend Brewer for his creative ways earning a pretty penny, but there was nothing unique about this government grift.
This case is one of dozens and was apparently wide spread practice. In 2014, a Leominster illegal alien was found guilty of running a similar scam. Leonardo Burgos Espinal paid an RMV clerk to create Puerto Rican identification papers for 15 or more illegal immigrants. Vanessa Puergro would produce the licenses and receive a small sum of money per license. To make matters worse, Espinal already served time in a Rhode Island prison for illegal entry. The question must be asked, if Espinal was already in custody by authorities, why was he not deported back to the Dominican Republic?
One brazen woman put her own twist on the scam and promised to deliver licenses to illegals but simply took the money without delivering the goods. The immigrants, fearing to turn to the authorities, were then left without any defense and their money taken. Adriana Ferreira collected around $8,600 over a two-year period. Threatening to call a contact in ICE for deportation of her victims, the illegal immigrants were forced to forgo an option of recovering the money. Granted, its unclear any expulsion would have actually occurred given the state’s poor track record of deporting unlawful citizens.
Governor Baker recently ended the state contract with Deloitte Consulting, who promised to create a new system that could catch potential fraud sooner. Deloitte has been paid $17 million to fix the defunct system.
The system allowed many loopholes and even granted the lowest of clerk attendants to waive certain security features. State Rep. Geoffrey G. Diehl (R-Whitman) hopes that a new 5 member financial control board will address several issues found in the audits. “The control board should jump on these ongoing issues with fraud and oversight at the registry,” he said. “We better see a lot of these issues addressed in those audits or else there will be real problems.”
Baker’s steadfast authority is promising to the citizens of Massachusetts for many reasons. His crack down on illegal immigrants is refreshing for many in the New England state, as many are growing concerned with the threat posed by undocumented citizens. Yet his refusal to continue business with a nonproductive private company is promising. Leading by example, the state’s executive branch promotes a serious stance on preventing government waste.