Immigration fraudsters battle detection
By NADIA MOHARIB, QMI Agency
April 24, 2010
CALGARY – Amelina Soriano looks nothing like a criminal or someone who spent years finding creative, criminal ways to get in to Canada, then cunningly using falsified documents to stay.
At an immigration hearing on Friday, the 36-year-old was so soft-spoken she was barely audible.
The image of a seemingly timid woman easily betrayed allegations by officials Soriano is someone savvy enough to skirt the system so successfully she has managed to make this country home twice despite breaking rules to make it happen.
It is the second time Soriano faces deportation from Canada, slipping in years after she was first send packing.
On her return visit she managed to live under the radar for more than two years.
You are totally lacking in credibility and have a long history of fraudulent dealings, Immigration and Refugee Board hearing officer Michael McPhalen said, ordering her detained pending deportation proceedings.
You used someone elses birth certificate in order to get a passport, to get a visa in a different name.
Soriano first came here as a live-in-nanny from the Philippines on a work permit in 2000.
About eight months later, she was convicted of fraud, earning a conditional sentence and ordered to pay about $10,000 in restitution.
By June the next year, Soriano was arrested by border officials in Winnipeg for working without a permit and by February 2003 sent back to her homeland.
But Soriano would be back as Maricel Arevalo.
In August 2007, she had a passport issued in the Philippines under the new name.
Using it, she applied for a work visa to take a job as a cook at KFC and boarded a flight to Vancouver.
Not long after, the woman already once deported, was in Alberta scoring a fraudulent social insurance number, a drivers license, a bank account and, after tying the knot here, a marriage license.
This week border officials ordered her deported, again.
Her husband knew nothing, Fatima Airth, a Canada Border Services lawyer said.
He was not aware of her true identity and she said she left Canada because she was involved in an abusive relationship.
A number of recent cases see people outed for using false documents and illegal routes to get to and stay in Canada.
This week Prince Olufemi Oshodi was convicted of using the identities of three dead Calgarians to apply for credit cards and faces deportation to Nigeria after serving his jail term.
In January, after eluding Canadian officials for several months, Markus Schmitt was sent back to Germany.
The man on an expired tourist visa was picked up by police investigating a report of a driver flashing an apparent police badge at other motorists.
Immigration officials later learned he was a convicted fraudster wanted in Germany.
Recently, Edmonton police charged Frank Otoroh with possessing forged documents, while police near Leduc accuse him of holding a stolen credit card.
The man, who was previously deported in 2007, spent a year in jail after a conviction for having a fake passport.
CBSA officials do extensive screening to try to keep those who use fraudulent means out of the country, many times stopping people before they get here, said department spokeswoman Lisa White.
Every day, millions of travellers are screened for entry and some are not allowed in, White said.
About sixty so-called migration integrity officers posted in countries overseas work with airlines and foreign police agencies to investigate fraud cases, people selling passports, fraudulent identity documents, and the likes, CBSA spokeswoman Lisa White said.
In the last five years, these migration officers succeeded in impeding the travel of more than 35,000 people who didnt have documents trying to get to Canada under fake means thats key, to stop them before they get here, White said, adding the same collaboration works to send people back if they have made it past Canadian borders.
We cant do it alone, thats why we cant stress enough the partnerships of law enforcement …around the world to help apprehend people here under false pretences.
Last April, convicted double-killer Elvir Pobric who had changed his appearance was picked up by police.
The man who is currently fighting deportation was the subject of a 13-year international manhunt and said to have entered Canada in 1999 under his own name, as a refugee.
That status was revoked because he didnt tell officials of the murder convictions.