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How foreign intelligence agencies could obtain massive amounts of valuable data by infiltrating passport and visa couriers and/or the Hand Carry Passport Courier Program

Last Updated on March 7, 2022

The following are my thoughts and is pure speculation on my part. There are companies with massive amounts of useful and actionable data that could be a treasure trove for foreign intelligence.

After being in the passport & visa facilitation industry for about 8 years and doing a post-mortem on my time there, one of the things that I was most concerned about was the security of customers documents. Not specifically spies, but usually I was worried about potential identity theft problems. I always felt proper vetting of my employees, physically and digitally securing passport & visa applications, and digital logging and security of our database(s) was of the utmost importance to me. Knowing when and where people are going to be traveling is EXTREMELY useful in a number of ways.

Clandestine operatives for foreign intelligence agencies exist for the purpose of influencing, obtaining, gathering, and collecting information. The types of things that they gather are wide ranging and some of their methods range from getting close to people that might have useful connections, making introductions to others and helping targets secure financial “benefits”. Most people will never know they’ve been associated or approached by such an operative. Some government employees are trained in counterespionage but most are not. Most, small private companies would have no idea. But the small companies wouldn’t be their target, intelligence operatives would want access to the most amount of data possible, especially if their target company had offices around the globe. It’s much easier to infiltrate a private company than a government agency.

Expeditors are a useful service for companies, high net worth individuals, businesspeople and others. For those that have the resources, they save time and hassles. Obviously with 10+ million US passports issued a year, most people don’t have anything to worry about. But these are the types of high value targets that foreign agents want information on.

intelligence operatives would want access to the most amount of data possible

There’s no questions that there are spies amongst us!

4 ways a clandestine intelligence operative might infiltrate a passport and visa courier company.

  • One might apply and take a job as an employee there;
  • Might offer favors at one consulate or embassy, whether it’s their own country or not;
  • Approach a company with an infusion of cash;
  • Help facilitate business connections or finance;

An intelligence organization would want their compromised (most likely unknown to the organization) company to work with as many other companies as possible and they would want to grow their influence and size to accumulate as much data as possible.

There are several large companies in the US that facilitate travel visas, and even more internationally. In regards to the Hand Carry Program for the US Department of State, I believe the smaller the company the less likely an operative would want to infiltrate the organization. A big red flag would be any company trying to collect or purchase this data from smaller courier companies.

Again this article is just pure speculation, but I strongly believe that many intelligence organizations would want this data. There are multiple large companies operating around the globe in this industry and my theories here are based on the industry as a whole and it’s not based on any specific evidence other than my own concerns I had while being in the industry.

What do you think? Is this data valuable to foreign intelligence?

Update: fixed grammatical errors

Scott Averbach

Avid Traveler and accomplished technology entrepreneur. Owner and Editor of this website and former owner of a passport expediting company. Want to read more about me? See: Who Owns This Website

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