The Texas Department of Public Safety sent thousands of Texas driver’s licenses to a crime group in a security lapse that is being investigated, the Dallas Morning News reports.
At least 3,000 Texans of Asian descent were targeted in what DPS Chief Steve McCraw described as “a Chinese organized crime group based in New York working in a number of different states.” According to Breitbart News, the gang used the fraudulently obtained identities to give to illegal alien look-alikes in New York.
“We’re not happy at all,” McCraw said. “Controls should have been in place and this should have never happened.”
McCraw said that the agency is working with the federal government and an investigation is now being conducted in at least four states, as other states were similarly targeted. No timeline was given for the investigation’s completion.
Asian Americans in #Texas are angered after officials revealed this week that thousands of Asians statewide may be impacted by identity theft orchestrated through a website that involved using personal information to answer security questions. https://t.co/A3NGrolEsZ
— Tom Hayes (@kabiu) March 4, 2023
The Dallas Morning News reports that no systems were hacked and that the crime group was instead able to illegally obtain the licenses in a scheme that McCraw described as “personal data about Texans of Asian descent was obtained on the dark web, including credit card and personal information, and then used to request replacement driver’s licenses from the state. The group specifically targeted Asians of various backgrounds with the hopes of finding ‘look-alikes’ to match with Chinese nationals here in the country illegally.”
The organized crime group was not identified by name.
The fraudulent scheme worked via the DPS and the Texas Department of Information Resources, with at least four thousand fraudulent accounts being created on the latter and 2,400 licenses being sent to “third party addresses,” the letter from DPS to legislators said.
The DPS said that they discovered the problem at the end of last year, but did not notify those affected because an investigation to arrest those responsible was already taking place. McCraw acknowledged that some suspects have already been apprehended . The decision to not notify the affected Texans, however, was not a universally popular one. Democratic Rep. Mary Gonzalez said that thousands of Texans were possibly impersonated without their knowledge.
“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,” Gonzalez said.
The Dallas Morning News writes that “Texans who believe they were targeted in the scam and fell victim to identity theft or fraud are being asked to contact local law enforcement or file a report with the state’s iWatch system, according to the Department of Public Safety.”
Asian Americans in Texas are angered after officials revealed this week that thousands of Asians statewide may be impacted by identity theft orchestrated through a website that involved using personal information to answer security questionshttps://t.co/SwvoGJ7nSC pic.twitter.com/wWDi8SFvvH
— ???? Michelle Mendoza (@Chicana74) March 4, 2023