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CBP officers arrest two impostors over busy weekend

CHAMPLAIN - U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently arrested two subjects in separate cases for impersonating other people.

The first case happened Dec. 10 when CBP officers in Champlain were conducting outbound enforcement operations when they encountered a 30-year-old male aboard the Amtrak passenger train destined to Canada via the Rouses Point border crossing. The subject presented a British passport as proof of citizenship and identity. Initial examination of the presented document revealed what appeared to be inconsistencies on the biographic page. The subject was removed from the train to verify his immigration status.

During the secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered the presented passport had been altered and contained a counterfeit biographical page. When confronted with the evidence discovered by CBP, the subject admitted the passport was fraudulent and his true identity was that of Muhammad Rafique, a citizen from Pakistan illegally present in the U.S. He further stated he entered the U.S. approximately 5 years ago illegally through Mexico and subsequently traveled to New York City, where he has remained, working at local restaurants and gas stations. He also claimed he purchased the illegal document in New York City from an unknown man for $5,000. Rafique advised CBP officers his intent was to travel to Canada to seek asylum.

Later that day, CBP officers working the Champlain Port of Entry encountered a 39-year-old female as she applied for admission into the U.S. The subject presented a valid Canadian passport as proof of citizenship and identity and advised the CBP officer she was en route to New Jersey to visit family. Initial examination of the presented document revealed what appeared to be inconsistencies on the biographic page. The subject was referred to CBP secondary enforcement for verification of her immigration status.

Upon further inspection of her presented document, CBP officers noticed the photograph contained on the biographic page of the passport did not bear an exact resemblance to the individual claiming ownership. A query of the subject's fingerprints resulted in the discovery of a record indicating the prints were not those of the subject listed in the presented passport, but rather belonged to Marie Denise Joseph, a citizen of Haiti who had been previously deported from the U.S. When confronted with the evidence discovered by CBP, Joseph admitted she was not the lawful owner of the presented document and she purchased it in Canada for $3,000. Record checks revealed Joseph was ordered removed in absentia from the U.S. in 2002, but failed to depart. She claims she remained in the country until 2007, when she fled to Canada to seek asylum. Joseph was now seeking to return to her former residence in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Both Rafique and Joseph were arrested by CBP on federal charges of forgery or false use of a passport and misuse of a passport respectively. Both subjects are being detained in the Clinton County Jail pending prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office the Northern District of New York.

The U.S. Attorney's Office states a criminal complaint is only an accusation, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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