Operation Death Match reaps another identity thief

Operation Death Match battles identity theft of dead people

Federal authorities don't take kindly to people stealing the identities of dead folks. A British citizen whose real name is John Skelton this week became one of the 150 people that have been arrested and charged with federal passport fraud and related offenses under a program known as Operation Death Match.

Run by the US Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service with cooperation from the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and other local and federal law enforcement officials, Operation Death Match is a five-year-old program that cross-matches computerized government death records with Department of State passport records to identify people who fraudulently apply for, and obtain, United States passports using birth certificates of deceased Americans.

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This week Skelton of Yorkshire, England was arrested at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on charges of identity fraud, false statements, and being an impostor to a US citizen, in this case a man known as Kurt Branham, who died in 1994.

DSS teamed with Customs and Border Protection officers to apprehend Skelton after the Brit presented a fraudulently obtained US passport to re-enter the country after a trip to the United Kingdom, DSS stated. Skelton, who lives in Baltimore, will be prosecuted by the US Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. The specific charges Skelton faces are for violations of fraud and false statement statutes ( 18 USC 1028, 18 USC 1542 and 18 USC 911).

"Stealing another person's identity is a very serious crime, but stealing the identity of a deceased citizen is despicable," said Stephen Dearborn, CBP acting port director for the Port of Baltimore in a statement. "We are very pleased to end Mr. Skelton's charade."

 Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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