Immigration welcomes sentencing of passport fraudster
16 SEPTEMBER 2011
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has welcomed the sentencing of an American man who obtained a passport in the name of his dead step-brother to get permanent residence in New Zealand.
Shawn Pitts, 51, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in the Christchurch District Court today after admitting seven charges of immigration fraud between 2004 and 2006. The charges related to his use of the passport to enter and work in New Zealand, fraudulent work references and obtaining residence on the basis of his relationship with a New Zealander.
INZ Fraud and Compliance Manager Peter Elms says Pitts’ offending came to INZ’s attention through enquiries made with US law enforcement agencies after questions were raised about his background.
“His passport was genuine, but had been obtained by fraud,” he says, “so it wasn’t recorded as having been lost, stolen or fraudulent.
“Identity fraud is a major challenge for us - the integrity of our immigration system is paramount, given its importance to New Zealand and our international reputation.
“This case reinforces that we will not tolerate offending designed to subvert our border security and will actively pursue those who seek to do so, regardless of the length of time since the offending.”
Mr Elms says INZ is continuing to strengthen its work with international partners, including through the development of a biometric programme, to enable greater detection of people attempting identity fraud.
Now that he has been convicted and sentenced INZ will be reviewing Pitts’ immigration status in New Zealand.