The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Passport fraudster stole dead baby’s identity


    The Department of Internal Affairs says criminals attempting passport fraud are most likely to be caught and punished, no matter how long ago the crime occurred. Tim Selwyn, the man sentenced today, used the name of a dead baby to establish a false identity. He was today sentenced in the Auckland District Court to seventeen months in jail on a number of charges including the passport fraud.

    Department of Internal Affairs Passports Manager, David Philp, says passport fraud is a crime with serious consequences, as well as being emotionally disturbing and offensive to innocent people.

    “Often, as in this case, the criminal has used the name of a dead baby to obtain a false passport. This is very distressing for the bereaved family.

    Mr Philp said identity fraud often precedes and enables further criminal offending.

    “We are committed to the ongoing development of security initiatives to ensure the integrity of the New Zealand passport, to stamp out this offending.

    “Passport fraud is a serious crime and we hope the conviction of Tim Selwyn will act as a deterrent. Those who commit this crime affect the integrity of the New Zealand passport for all New Zealanders. Our passport is one of the best in the world, providing visa free access to many countries,” Mr Philp says.

    The Department of Internal Affairs has introduced new systems and procedures including on-line checking of all new passport applications against Life Event records, that is, the Births, Death and Citizenship Registers. The introduction of an e-Passport, a shorter time for valid passports and other systems will also contribute to maintaining the integrity of the New Zealand passport, and make it extremely difficult for even a determined criminal to obtain a New Zealand passport and use it fraudulently.

    If convicted of offences committed since 2002, people face penalties of up to ten years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000 under passport legislation passed in that year.

    Mr Philp says: “Our message to anyone thinking of committing this sort of fraud is: ‘Don’t try it, you will be caught.’”

    Tony Wallace, Senior Communications Advisor
    Department of Internal Affairs
    Phone 04 382 3437 (direct line) or mobile 0274 402 667

    Statement from a victim of another false passport application:

    "The pain we have suffered was strange after all these years. I felt an intrusion into our private lives as well as old wounds reopened. It was extremely upsetting to learn that our baby brother's identity was callously stolen.”