Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead - Benjamin Franklin
The story of Farhan Mahmood urf/aka Muhammad Irfan (or vice versa?) reads like a 1970's Bollywood double-role masala flick.
I've written in the past as to the apparent ease in circumventing our immigration laws. You don't need to be a criminal mastermind or Frank Abagnale to pull one over nice, polite Canada.
I've written in the past how terrorists have entered this country and remained for decades. In this case, a foreign national was able to enter Canada and live here for years with a double identity. Not knowing who it is that we are allowing entry into Canada undermines the integrity of our immigration system and undermines the security of our society. All you need is the ability to get a another passport with a different name.
It's harder to change the face that you were born with.
Muhammad Irfan born on February 12, 1977 came to Canada in 2003 to work for Maharaja Sweets and Restaurant owned by Tariq Chaudhry in Edmonton, Alberta and after being denied subsequent work permits, he left Canada on September 23, 2003.
Enter Farhan Mahmood born on January 10, 1978, who apparently enters Canada on a work permit in late 2005, coincidentally to work for a similarly named business owned by the same employer, Tariq Chaudhry. Also coincidentally both Mr. Mahmood and Mr. Irfan previously worked in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan, and both had similar home addresses in Kamalia District, Toba Teck Singh.
Irfan first, then Mahmood had applied for and received an Alberta Driver's License. This is a secure document and applicants' photos are stored in a database. Irfan (or was it Mahmood?) had a moustache; Mahmood (or was it Irfan?) was clean-shaven. The difference between the photographs of Irfan and Mahmood is basically that between between Clark Kent and Superman.
Years passed; Mahmood worked here from 2005 to 2013. Mahmood later sued Tariq Chaudhry. That was probably a bad idea because Chaudhry went to CBSA. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall for the first discussion between a CBSA or CIC officer and Chaudhry. However, CIC and CBSA often initiate investigations on such complaints, sometimes anonymous (and known as a "poison pen letter") and sometimes shar-e-aam. In this case, Chaudhry would have to know, and in fact would necessarily have to take part in the deception of Canadian authorities (employers in Canada need to obtain what was then called a Labour Market Opinion, and now called a Labour Market Impact Assessment to support an application for a work permit by a foreign national). Perhaps Mahmood/Irfan thought Chaudhry would not come forward because of his own entanglement in this sordid story.
An investigation was launched and facial recognition analysis as well as a manual comparison resulted in a conclusion that the photographs of the two men were "the strongest possible match". The CBSA sought to have Mahmood/Irfan removed for misrepresentation as Mahmood did not disclose his previous work permit applications/refusals as Irfan.
Mahmood went down swinging. He challenged the determination that he and his doppleganger were the same person at two administrative tribunals and the Federal Court of Canada.
The Immigration Division, the Immigration Appeal Division and the Federal Court reviewed Mahmood's argument that he and Irfan were two different men; that Irfan was simply his humshakal. I assume they have not watched Bollywood movies such as Amitabh Bachchan's Don or the Great Gambler - clearly everyone has a twin somewhere in the world, and it's entirely possible that both (from the same neighbourhood) could end up working (in the same profession and) in the same Pakistani restaurant half-way around the world in Canada, one right after the other. Heck, maybe they're long lost twin brothers, swept apart when they were children in a hurricane, a flood, or an earthquake or another Manmohan Desai type of plot device only to find that after a lifetime of searching for each other, they missed meeting one another in a northern Canadian city by a few months.
But life, alas, is not a Bollywood movie.
Chaudhry testified before the ID (hell hath no fury as an employer sued?) but greater reliance was placed on the comparison report that found that Mahmood and Irfan were the same person. The ID however found there was insufficient evidence that he failed to disclose the previous work permit applications/refusals (obviously a snafu on the part of the CBSA). The CBSA appealed to the IAD with additional evidence and the IAD found Mahmood and Irfan to be the same person and Mahmood/Irfan inadmissible for misrepresentation. Great stock was placed on the analysis by the IAD and Mahmood's arguments of Officer Bryant being influenced by CBSA "wishes" fell on deaf ears. I don't think anything turns on the identity of the Board Member, but such is the luck of the draw, that particular Member just happened to be a financial crime officer with the RCMP, a team leader in the anti-human smuggling unit of the RCMP, and an investigator for the Vancouver Stock Exchange prior to his appointment to the IAD. I would imagine that this background allows for a certain, let us say, je ne sais quoi, confidence in law enforcement and their investigatory techniques and reliability of same.
Mahmood argued that he and Irfan could not have been the same person as he was in Pakistan getting married, and a child was born that same year when Irfan entered this country. However, he did not provide a marriage certificate or a birth certificate. If someone can obtain a different Pakistan passport (perhaps even an apparently secure Pakistan National Identity Card) that person would be able to obtain a Nikah-nama or Union Council marriage certificate and birth certificate. Odd. Purely hypothetically, perhaps the contact that assisted him in securing documents in the past was no longer available or willing to assist with additional documents. Who knows. It's immaterial. What we do know is that Mahmood/Irfan didn't even - at least at the IAD - have anyone else testify saying that he is who he says he is. This is strange litigation strategy, but bear in mind, I am not privy to the facts and the perspective that Mahmood/Irfan's lawyer had. Sometimes you just have to play the cards you are dealt.
The Federal Court decision provides additional background as to the facial comparison. The CBSA investigation included a facial recognition image comparison report; there was then a manual comparison by an examiner from the provincial government's facial recognition and document examination team with the conclusion that the two photographs of Mahmood and Irfan were "the strongest possible match" [paragraph 6]. The Court canvassed the "comparison report" from paragraphs 11-22. In addition to the "system" report, Officer Bryant's manual comparison included the use of the "FBI seven point scale" and his "analysis did not rely solely on computer measurements and took into account differences such as lighting, pitch, yaw and roll in each photograph." Further, before the IAD was an independent peer review of Officer Bryant's comparison report.
There is no indication as to the cost to taxpayers of this investigation and subsequent efforts to remove Mahmood/Irfan. I would imagine it easily runs into the six figures involving CBSA Officers, Hearings Officers, Police, DoJ counsel and tribunal and Court time.
I assume the now mandatory collection of biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) from TRV applicants from Pakistan has put an end to the double-identity gambit. Remember though, were it not for a "combative", "self-serving" and "lacking in credibility in many areas" Chaudhry that turned on Mahmood, this would never have come to light; Mahmood may well have become a citizen with none the wiser. There are many others like Mahmood/Irfan in Canada, either oblivious of the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, or content with waiting for the other shoe to drop for the rest of their lives.
This may not be the end of Mahmood/Irfan's legal issues in Canada. He could be charged for offences related to documents. Section 122 of the IRPA proscribes possessing a passport of Canadian or foreign origin that purports to establish or that could be used to establish a person's identity or use such a document, including for the purpose of entering or remaining in Canada. The maximum penalties range from imprisonment up to five years or up to 14 years. But, luckily for Mahmood/Irfan, the SCC decision in Jordan, the shortage of judges and Crown counsel in Alberta and the fact that there is now a removal order against him, I would surmise that he may be safe from criminal prosecution (even though one would be child's play).
It may be that Pakistan will not take kindly to an individual holding two different Pakistan passport. I'm not sure.
There is no information as to the repercussions (if any) to Chaudhry and whether he or his businesses still have access to Service Canada/the temporary foreign worker program.
Exit, stage left.
Federal Court decision: Download Mahmood 2016fc1332
The IAD decision: Download Mahmood irfan 2016canlii22116