FAKE PASSPORT – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Patrick Sileo, 62, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested and charged by complaint with fraud in connection with identification documents. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin M. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that on November 11, 2019, an undercover HSI Special Agent (UCA) was contacted online by the defendant who was utilizing the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Sileo inquired about purchasing a fraudulent passport and stated that he found the UCA’s email address on a website known to law enforcement that advertises the sale of various illegal products, such as fraudulent identity documents, drugs, and counterfeit goods, among other illicit items. The UCA posed as a seller/online vendor of fraudulent documents.
The defendant told the UCA that he was a U.S. citizen currently located in the United States who had returned from Southeast Asia “some” months ago. He further stated that he had a United States passport that would be expiring in one week and that the Internal Revenue Service had blocked it from being renewed.
The following day, on November 12, 2019, Sileo told the UCA that he would use it to travel to Southeast Asia, and that it would be his primary identity document. He also asked for clarification on the process of purchasing the document. The UCA explained that defendant needed to make the purchase online, then send the UCA biographical information, a facial photograph, and signature to be placed on the fraudulent passport. The UCA would, in turn, create a document utilizing the information.
On November 23, 2019, email@example.com ordered a United Kingdom passport with the UCA, placing $3,585.00 in escrow on the dark web website for the purchase of the document. The defendant provided the UCA with a copy of a facial photograph, as well as fictitious information to be placed on the passport. On December 6, 2020, the defendant advised the UCA where to mail the passport to in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The defendant was arrested in Nevada and returned to the Western District of New York. Sileo made an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and is being held.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
DOJ press release can be read here