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Detection of Genotype Recycling Fraud in U.S. Immigrants


  • Robert E. Wenk M.D., M.S.

    1. BRT Laboratories, 400 West Franklin St., Baltimore, MD 21201.
    2. Department of Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802.
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  • Presented as a poster at the 50th Annual Short Course on Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics, July 20, 2009, in Bar Harbor, ME.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Robert E. Wenk, M.D., M.S.
BRT Laboratories
400 West Franklin Street
Baltimore, MD 21201


Abstract:  Relationship testing laboratories provide genetic evidence to support or refute claims of kinship between U.S. citizen petitioners and potential immigrant beneficiaries. One female beneficiary presented a male amelogenin type and alleles at 15 autosomal loci that were identical to an alleged brother’s. Laboratory records showed that her alleged father had petitioned to have 15 children emigrate from Ghana. The petitioner’s 15 paternity indices exceeded 105, but the children shared only four short tandem repeat (STR) profiles, suggesting fraudulent reuse of genotypes in this alleged pedigree (AP). To determine the extent of this “genotype recycling,” I examined the laboratory’s 555 APs from Ghana and 532 control APs from Nigeria. Seventeen Ghanaian APs (3.1%) but no Nigerian APs showed genotype recycling. Of 90 tested people in the 17 APs, 56 shared identical STR profiles with others in their AP. Of these 56 people, 10 were petitioners with unexpectedly high parentage indices. Seven of 56 had amelogenin types that disagreed with their declared genders. Database searches for identical multilocus genotypes in allegedly different people would best detect this fraud.