Diplomatic Security Service Announces Passport Fraud Convictions

Press Statement
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Washington, DC
February 2, 2016


Arrests Part of a Nationwide Enforcement Effort Dubbed “Operation Death Match”

The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) San Francisco Field Office announced today the conviction of five more individuals for allegedly applying for, or obtaining, U.S. passports using the identities of deceased Americans.

These individuals were arrested as a result of an effort dubbed “Operation Death Match” that is an 11-year nationwide enforcement effort, led by DSS, to cross-match computerized government death records with State Department passport records to identify individuals who applied for and obtained U.S. passports.

The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false documents,” said David Zebley, Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office. “The U.S. passport is the most coveted travel document in the world. There are foreign nationals who attempt to fraudulently acquire U.S. passports to carry out criminal activities, including terrorism, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States.”

More than 200 individuals have been arrested and convicted of federal passport fraud or related false identification offenses in connection with this operation, many of whom were previously reported here: http://2001-2009.state.gov/m/ds/rls/109742.htm

Those arrested and convicted in this latest phase as reported in various public court records and proceedings, include:

  • Alejandro Musso Cortes of San Jose, California, who pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing in early 2016, in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.
  • Nadja Richter of Odessa, Florida, who pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing in early 2016, in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida.
  • Oded Daniel Gal of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, who was sentenced to one month in prison and six months of home confinement on August 7, 2015, in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
  • Michael Thrasher of Summerville, South Carolina, who was sentenced to 25 months of imprisonment on September 10, 2015, in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. This investigation was worked jointly with the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.
  • Albert Degraff of Berkeley, California, who was sentenced to approximately eight months of imprisonment and ordered to repay $242,640 to the Social Security Administration on January 5, 2015, in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. This investigation was worked jointly with the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.

The majority of these cases were coordinated with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. Anyone with information about false or fraudulently issued passports is encouraged to contact DSS at (415) 705-1176.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State's law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of the Secretary of State and 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect visiting high‑ranking foreign dignitaries and officials, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. Each year, DSS participates in hundreds of arrests worldwide for passport and visa fraud. For additional information about the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, visit 2009-2017.state.gov/m/ds.

For additional information, contact:

DS-Press@state.gov

or

Dayna Rowden
Diplomatic Security Public Affairs
rowdende@state.gov
571-345-2507