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Chinese criminal group steals 3,000 driver’s licenses from ‘look-alikes’ of illegal immigrants

Texas Department of Public Safety Chief Steve McCraw (Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

A Chinese criminal organization based in New York stole driver’s licenses from "look-alikes" of illegal immigrants, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

On Monday, DPS Chief Steve McCraw told the Dallas Morning News that 3,000 Texans of Asian descent were targeted in the thefts. McCraw attributed the incident to a security lapse, which he noted is still under investigation.

A Chinese organized crime group obtained the stolen driver’s licenses by first acquiring the personal information of Asian-Americans on the dark web. Then, the group used the information to order duplicate driver’s licenses through the Texas DPS website.

The portal for obtaining licenses is operated by a separate agency, the Texas Department of Information Resources.

The criminal organization ordered the licenses by entering personal information, including a previous address or a mother’s maiden name. The thieves paid as little as $11 for the duplicate licenses and had them delivered to “third-party addresses.”

According to McCraw, the group intentionally targeted American citizen “look-alikes” who matched with illegal Chinese immigrants in the United States.

“We’re not happy at all,” McCraw stated. “Controls should have been in place and this should have never happened.”

The DPS stated that it learned of the thefts at the end of last year but did not notify any victims because of the ongoing investigation. In addition, the department noted that it apprehended some of those believed to be responsible.

State Rep. Mary González (D) criticized the DPS for failing to alert the victims.

“The number one thing we have as a government agency, as government folks, is trust. And when we lose that trust by not thinking through, it’s difficult to rebuild that trust with the people,” González stated.

Hailong Jin, a DFW Chinese Alliance board member, said the department should immediately have alerted victims that their identities had been stolen. Instead, according to Jin, most Chinese American victims learned about the stolen licenses through news reports.

State Rep. Mano DeAyala (R) expressed concerns that the stolen driver’s licenses could be used to obtain identification in other states.

DPS Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Services Jeoff Williams informed state lawmakers that the criminals did not hack the state’s system but instead exploited existing security vulnerabilities. DPS reported that it has since addressed the loopholes that allowed the criminal group to order the licenses.

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