Maryland issued hundreds of fraudulent drivers licenses based on counterfeit documents, audit says

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The state issued hundreds of fraudulent driver’s licenses designed for immigrants in the country without legal documentation, a recent audit found. Two Motor Vehicle Administration Workers were fired as a result.

As many as 826 driver’s licenses were issued using counterfeit documents, according to a state legislative audit released to the public this week. Because many of the licenses had fraudulent home addresses, MVA investigators were unable to confiscate most of the improperly issued IDs after the fact.

Maryland lawmakers created a second tier of driver’s licenses in 2013 to make sure undocumented immigrants could still obtain a legal ID and be allowed to legally drive on state roads.

The new class of licenses did not meet federally mandated security standards and could not be used to board an airplane or enter a federal building. Instead, this tier of licenses and identification cards could be obtained by people who did not have a Social Security number, but who had paid taxes in Maryland for at least two years.

As of August 2016, more than 82,600 such IDs had been issued.

In 2016, the Motor Vehicle Administration had detected 270 licenses issued with fraudulent documents in a six-month period in a single branch.

State auditors discovered the problem was more widespread, and questioned whether the MVA fixed the process.

The licenses require a letter from the state comptroller’s office verifying that the person has paid taxes, and each letter has a unique number identifying the taxpayer.

While the authenticity of that number was verified when people applied online in advance for these licenses, it had not been verified when people walked in without an appointment to obtain one.

Auditors found that a single comptroller letter was used repeatedly to get 16 different driver’s licenses or ID cards. In more than 100 separate cases, the names used to get driver’s licenses or ID cards did not match the identification number on the comptroller’s letter. The same residence was used for 40 driver’s licenses.

In a written response to the audit, MVA officials said they fired the workers who violated the policy of not processing applications unless people had applied online first. Officials said that in April, they closed the loophole that allowed a comptroller’s identification number to be used more than one time.

ecox@baltsun.com

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