Passport fraud worry - Arrests surge in 2019
More than 375 cases of identity duplication have been detected by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) since the start of the year.
Eighty-one cases were identified in the last three months and have been submitted to the agency’s Investigation and Surveillance Unit (ISU).
Of the cases that have been identified,170 people have been arrested since the start of the year. Between 2016 and 2017, more than 156 people were arrested. No data were provided for 2018. That means that this year’s arrests have more than doubled the average for the last two years for which data are on record.
The US$1.38-million facial-recognition system, which has biometric software capable of identifying a specific individual in a digital image, was implemented in 2015.
PICA CEO Andrew Wynter says the system has allowed the agency to quickly detect cases of identity fraud and has increased the integrity of Jamaica’s passports.
“Because they know that we have a robust system, in terms of security, they know that the genuineness and the integrity of the document is good,” he told The Gleaner.
“It has been very good to us. It has certainly helped to clean up the passport system ... . One of the big threats in the world today is identity theft. One of the things we had found in our system is that you had people who, for various reasons applied for a passport, maybe didn’t get through and they obtained another passport in another name,” he explained.
Yesterday, the agency, which falls under the Ministry of National Security, launched an online renewal portal for adult passports issued after September 2001.
Adults who were minors when their last passport was issued are not eligible to use the services.
Notably, renewals are only allowed if the passport has expired or will expire in one year.
Delivery is offered through courier services within seven working days for local applicants and 20 working days for overseas applicants. Applicants can also make the renewal application online and pick up at a local PICA office.
Wynter said that online applications will undergo the same quality and security checks to ensure that the applicant is the correct owner of the passport.
“When you go online, it will still go through facial recognition because we have a picture of [the applicant] ... . We will check you, and if there’s an issue, then you will be contacted and advised, and someone from the investigations and surveillance unit will reach out to you,” said Wynter.
What you’ll need for adult online passport renewal:
- A computer with Internet access;
- Your current passport;
- Jamaican citizenship document: birth certificate, adoption certificate, or citizenship certificate;
- A digital passport-size photograph;
- A valid Master or Visa card for payment;
- A working email address.
Step by step:
- Log on to PICA’s website at www.pica.gov.jm, then click on the online adult passport renewal icon.
- Complete the eligibility questions.
- Fill in the application form.
- Verify your email address.
- Access and input the verification code sent to the email address submitted.
- Upload digital passport-size photo.
- Make payment.
- Submit application.
Before commencing the process, applicants can utilise the photo checker feature to test the suitability of the passport-size photo they intend to use.
Also, the fee calculator tab can inform applicants of the various costs for passport services and delivery.