To work in the US, immigrants require a green card or employment authorization. Undocumented immigrants sometimes use identities stolen from others in order to gain employment authorization. While identity theft is a concern for many who live in the US, a recent case shows that those who have passed away may also be victims of identity theft.
Bimbo Oyewole, a Nigerian national, has admitted that he stole the identity of a man who had been murdered in order to have authorization to work in the US. Having assumed the identity, Oyewole worked at an airport in New York City for two decades – as a security supervisor. He has pleaded guilty to using a false security badge after making a deal with prosecutors. While prosecutors recommended probation for Oyewole, the man still faces possible deportation. Oyewole will remain in jail until his sentencing hearing in October.
Oyewole entered the US legally in 1989 on a student visa. However, he overstayed his visa after it expired, making him an undocumented immigrant with no employment authorization in the US. Oyewole assumed the identity of Jerry Thomas in 1992, after buying Thomas’s identification papers from a taxi driver. Thomas allegedly sold the documents to the taxi driver weeks before he was shot to death. According to authorities, there is no evidence to suggest that Oyewole was involved in Thomas`s death.
Using Thomas`s Social Security number and birth certificate, Oyewole was able to apply for work at Newark Liberty International Airport. He received airport workers security clearance and other ID through his workplace. According to the Port Authority, Oyewole most recently worked for contractor FJC Security Services. As part of his duties, he supervised 30 guards and had access to the tarmac, airplanes, and access gates as part of his job. The Port Authority has stated that they became suspicious about Oyewole after receiving an anonymous letter about the man.
The case is a cause of concern for a number of reasons. Oyewole was able to access potentially sensitive airport areas by using fake ID for years, a concern for the airport authority. The fact that Oyewole was able to evade suspicion for so many years is also a concern, as is the fact that no one noticed that he was using a dead man`s ID. The Port Authority has not announced whether it has any plans to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. There have also been no announced plans to change screening of employees.