Counterfeit Documents Used to Enter the United States From Certain Western Hemisphere Countries Not Detected

GAO-03-713T: Published: May 13, 2003. Publicly Released: May 13, 2003.

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Robert J. Cramer
(202) 512-7227


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

This testimony discusses the results of security tests we performed in which agents of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), acting in an undercover capacity, entered the United States from various countries in the Western Hemisphere using counterfeit documentation and fictitious identities. This work was initially undertaken at the request of the Senate Finance Committee and was continued at the request of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, House Committee on the Judiciary. The purpose of our tests was to determine whether U.S. government officials conducting inspections at ports of entry would detect the counterfeit identification documents.

In summary, we created counterfeit identification documents in order to establish fictitious identities for our agents by using off-the-shelf computer graphic software that is available to any purchaser. The agents entered the United States from Jamaica, Barbados, Mexico, and Canada using fictitious names, counterfeit driver's licenses and birth certificates. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection (BCBP) staff never questioned the authenticity of the counterfeit documents, and our agents encountered no difficulty entering the country using them. On two occasions, BCBP staff did not ask for any identification when our agents entered the United States from Mexico and Canada. We have briefed BCBP officials on the results and methods of our work.

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