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Document and Benefit Fraud

Harvard recognizes ICE's DMV outreach campaign with a Bright Idea award

WASHINGTON - The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University, announced that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Outreach Campaign "Do the Right Thing-Stop Document and Identity Fraud" by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was one of 173 government programs selected for its newly-created Bright Ideas program. The DMV campaign was one of three DHS programs selected for the Bright Idea award and the first such designation for ICE.

"I would like to recognize the hard work and innovation of the Identity and Benefit Fraud Unit," said ICE Director John Morton. "This award showcases the dedication and creative energy of the men and women of ICE."

The award winning campaign led by ICE's Identity and Benefit Fraud Unit (IBFU) is aimed at informing DMV employees that committing document and identity fraud results in grave personal and professional consequences and, more importantly, jeopardizes the safety and well-being of the public.

To help spread the message of the dangers of document and identity fraud, ICE established a working relationship with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and became the first U.S. federal law enforcement member to serve on AAMVA's Internal Fraud Working Group.

The campaign materials include a 10-minute ICE-produced video, brochures and posters that provide an overview of the serious national security implications of document and identity fraud, as well as the damage to the lives of the perpetrators. The materials have been distributed to more than 42 DMVs across the country. To spread the message, ICE agents went on the road to AMVAA conferences around the county to talk about the dangers and consequences of document and benefit fraud.

"For over 20 years we have been honoring the country's most creative public sector initiatives through our Innovations in American Government Awards Program," said Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Center. "The creation of Bright Ideas was a natural next step to shed light on an even greater number of noteworthy programs and practices across our nation and to encourage practitioners to make these ideas work in their own backyards."

Bright Ideas is an initiative of the Ash Center's Innovations in Government Program, which spotlights exemplary models of government innovation and advances efforts to address the nation's most pressing public concerns.

As the primary investigative arm within the Department of Homeland Security, HSI has been at the forefront of numerous DMV employee corruption investigations and identified a trend in which DMV employees exploit their positions to sell genuine DMV-issued identification documents for financial gain.

HSI-led DMV corruption investigations have resulted in the arrest, indictment and successful prosecution of DMV employees and members of criminal organizations. The HSI office of the special agent in charge in Baltimore led several of these investigations, including an undercover operation at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Investigators discovered that criminals involved in narcotics smuggling, firearms distribution and murder had been obtaining ill-gotten commercial driver's licenses at the MVA, which expanded the scope of the MVA investigation into a large-scale drug smuggling operation along the Eastern Seaboard.

The driver's license can be used as proof of identity when completing employment eligibility forms, boarding an aircraft, opening a bank account and demonstrating residency to many forms of local, state and federal government components.